A slight improvement in business conditions has led to fewer architecture firms reporting declining billings, according to a new report from The American Institute of Architects (AIA).
AIA’s monthly Architecture Billings Index improved slightly in January, with a value of 44.9, as compared to a revised value of 42.3 in December. The ABI is a leading economic indicator of construction activity in the U.S. and reflects a nine- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending nationally, regionally, and by project type. A score above 50 represents an increase in billings from the previous month, while a score below 50 represents a contraction. Each January, the AIA research department updates the seasonal factors used to calculate the ABI, resulting in a revision of recent ABI values.
“The broader economy entered a soft spot during the fourth quarter of last year, and business conditions at design firms have reflected this general slowdown,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “While federal stimulus and the increasing pace of vaccinations may begin to accelerate progress in the coming months, the year has gotten off to a slow start, with architecture firms in all regions of the country and in all specializations reporting continued declines in project billings.”
Key ABI highlights for January include:
- Regional averages: South (47.4); West (42.8); Midwest (42.2); Northeast (41.9)
- Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (47.9); multi-family residential (44.4); commercial/industrial (44.3); institutional (39.9)
- Project inquiries index: 56.8
- Design contracts index: 48.8
The regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers.
For more information, visit aia.org.