Architecture Billings Index (ABI)
The Architecture Billings Index is an economic indicator for nonresidential construction activity, with a lead time of approximately 9–12 months. Investment groups like Wells Fargo, media outlets, firms of all sizes, and business leaders rely on this leading monthly economic indicator to assess business conditions and predict and track the market.
The index is derived from AIA’s Work-on-the-Boards survey, which has gathered data on shifts in billings from architectural firm leaders for over 20 years. This data is a trusted tool used by the design and construction industry and other firms to predict and track movements in the market
Examples of the ABI in use:
- Firm strategic planning: ADD Inc., a multidisciplinary design firm with 200 employees, uses the ABI to help prepare for market fluctuations and ramp-up hiring.
- Determining business cycle shifts: Johnson Controls, which provides buildings services, looks to ABI for an early picture of construction trends to use in resource planning and stockholder guidance—and to identify expansion opportunities.
- Timing in a changing economy: One of the largest privately held family-owned real estate development and construction firms, Gilbane Inc., finds the ABI vital to help manage budgets, prepare for market movements, manage RFPs and seek leads.
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ABI October 2020: As the decline in billings continues to slow, architecture firms report an increase in contracts signed for new work
Business conditions at architecture firms moved slowly towards recovery in October, as the pace of the decline in firm billings continued to slow.
ABI September 2020: Despite an ongoing decline in architecture firm billings, indicators of future work continue to improve
The third quarter of 2020 ended on a more promising note for architecture firms, as fewer firms reported declining billings in September than in recent months.
ABI August 2020: Architecture firm billings still show little sign of improvement
Many firms are finding that fewer proposals are converting to active projects since pandemic’s start
ABI July 2020: Business conditions remain soft at architecture firms, as clients are reluctant to move ahead with new projects
Most firms that received a PPP loan anticipate having to reduce staff and/or staff hours as their loan is exhausted
ABI June 2020: Business conditions at architecture firms begin to stabilize, fewer firms report declining billings this month
38% of firms predict a decrease in architecture staff at their firm by the end of the year, while 17% expect an increase
ABI May 2020: Architecture firms report steep decline in billings for third consecutive month
More than one third of firms have had client discussions about changing needs for facilities in the post-pandemic built environment