As architecture firms ended 2021 on a high note with strong business conditions, staff recruitment is becoming a growing concern among firms.
December’s Architectural Billings Index (ABI) score of 52.0 was an increase from 51.0 in November (any score over 50 indicates billings growth). Despite a variety of concerns related to the omicron variant, labor shortages, and rising prices as well as limited availability of construction materials, firms continued to report a robust supply of work in the pipeline. Inquiries into new work and the value of new design contracts both remained strong, and backlogs, at an average of 6.5 months, remained near their highest levels since the AIA began tracking this metric in 2010.
“Since demand for design projects has been healthy over the last year, recruiting architectural staff to keep up with project workloads has been a growing concern for firms,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Architecture is one of the few industries where payrolls have already surpassed their pre-pandemic high, so meeting future staffing needs is a challenge that most firms will need to confront.
Key ABI highlights for December include:
- Regional averages: South (56.4); Midwest (51.0); West (47.5); Northeast (45.3)
- Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (60.6); multi-family residential (49.2); commercial/industrial (49.2); institutional (47.6)
- Project inquiries index: 66.8
- Design contracts index: 55.8
The regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers.