Architectural billings in August still show little sign of improvement

WASHINGTON – Sept. 23, 2020 – Business conditions remained stalled at architecture firms during August as demand for design services continued to decline, according to a new report from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

The pace of decline during August remained at about the same level as in July and June, posting an Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score of 40.0 (any score below 50 indicates a decline in firm billings). Inquiries into new projects during August grew for the first time since February, and the value of new design contracts increased to a score of 46.0. As a result, fewer firms reported a decline in August, despite the fact that they remained negative overall.

“Unfortunately, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many architecture firms are finding fewer inquiries that convert to billable projects,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “While fewer firms reported declining billings in August than during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fact that the score has been unchanged for the last three months shows that the recovery from this downturn is not progressing at the pace we had hoped to see.”

Key ABI figures for August include:

  • Regional averages: Midwest (41.7); South (41.6); West (41.3); Northeast (33.9)
  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (49.4); mixed practice (41.9); institutional (40.2); commercial/industrial (35.5)
  • Project inquiries index: 51.6
  • Design contracts index: 46.0

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers.

Visit AIA’s website for more ABI information.

About AIA

Founded in 1857, AIA consistently works to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through more than 200 international, state and local chapters, AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public wellbeing.

AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation, and world. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards.

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