Business Conditions Remain Soft at Architecture Firms

The AIA/Deltek Architecture Billings Index (ABI) remained below 50 for the fourth consecutive month. The score of 45.3 increased by one point from October, indicating slightly fewer firms reporting a decline in billings. Any score below 50.0 indicates decreasing business conditions but there are encouraging signs of the pipeline.

“This marks the seventh month in 2023 with a decline in billings. Over the past three months this pace of decline has accelerated, with firms in all specializations and in all regions of the country reporting weakening business conditions,” said Kermit Baker, PhD, AIA Chief Economist. “However, with signs that credit conditions are beginning to ease, firms are reporting an uptick in inquiries for future projects.”

Firms in all regions reported a decline in billings, with business conditions remaining softest at firms located in the West as the region’s billings hit a low for the year. Firms specializing in multi-family residential continue to remain the weakest and business conditions declined further at firms with institutional specialization, despite being the strongest to start 2023.

The ABI score is a leading economic indicator of construction activity, providing an approximately nine-to-twelve-month glimpse into the future of nonresidential construction spending activity. The score is derived from a monthly survey of architecture firms that measures the change in the number of services provided to clients.

Key ABI highlights for November include:

  • Regional averages: Northeast (44.4); Midwest (49.0); South (46.7); West (39.5)
  • Sector index breakdown: commercial/industrial (45.7); institutional (46.6); mixed practice (firms that do not have at least half of their billings in any one other category) (42.7); multifamily residential (42.1)
  • Project inquiries index: 56.9
  • Design contracts index: 48.1

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