Architecture Billings Index Reports Sluggish Start to 2024

Architecture firm billings remained soft entering into 2024, with an AIA/Deltek Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score of 46.2 in January. Any score below 50.0 indicates decreasing business conditions.

“This now marks the lengthiest period of declining billings since 2010, although it is reassuring that the pace of this decline is less rapid and the broader economy showed improvement in January,” said Kermit Baker, PhD, chief economist for AIA. “Firms are seeing growth with inquiries into new projects and value of newly signed design contracts is holding steady, showing potential signs of interest from clients in new projects.”

Business conditions remained weak at firms in all regions of the country except the Midwest, where modest growth was seen in three of the last four months. Firms with a multifamily residential specialization continue to report the softest business conditions of all specializations.

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 January include:

  • Regional averages: Northeast (43.6); Midwest (50.9); South (45.2); West (46.6)
  • Sector index breakdown: commercial/industrial (47.0); institutional (48.5); mixed practice (firms that do not have at least half of their billings in any one other category) (42.9); multifamily residential (44.6)
  • Project inquiries index: 53.8
  • Design contracts index: 49.7

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