While architectural billings failed to show much progress during October, signs of improving business conditions at firms have emerged, according to a new report from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
The pace of decline during October remained at about the same level as in September, posting an Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score of 47.5 (any score below 50 indicates a decline in firm billings). Meanwhile, firms reported a modest increase in new project inquiries—growing from 57.2 in September to 59.1 in October—and newly signed design contracts jumped into positive territory for the first time since the pandemic began, with a score of 51.7.
“Though still in negative territory, the moderating billings score along with the rebound in design contracts and inquiries provide some guarded optimism,” said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “The pace of recovery will continue to vary across regions and sectors.”
Key ABI highlights for October include:
- regional averages are 50.4 for the West, 49.4 for the Midwest, 45.8 for the South, 44.9 for the Northeast;
- sector index breakdown are 55.1 for multi-family residential, 52.7 for mixed practice, 48 for commercial/industrial, 42.2 for institutional;
- project inquiries index is 59.1; and
- design contracts index is 51.7.
The regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average, whereas the national index and design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers.