The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) reached its first positive mark in a year in February, according to a new report from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
The ABI score for February was 53.3 compared to 44.9 in January (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). February also marked the first time the design contract score rose back into positive territory since the pandemic began with a score of 51.6 compared to 48.8 in January. The new project inquiries score for February reached a 22-month high water mark with a score of 61.2 compared to 56.8 in January.
“Hopefully, this is the start of a more sustained recovery. It is possible that scores will continue to bounce above and below 50 for the next few months, as recoveries often move in fits and starts,” said AIA chief economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Beyond the encouraging billing data, architecture employment added 700 new positions in January and has now regained 45 percent of the jobs that were lost since the beginning of the pandemic.”
Key ABI highlights for February include:
- regional averages are 52.4 for the South, 49.5 for the West, 49.3 for the Midwest, and 46.9 for the Northeast;
- sector index breakdown are 52.5 for mixed practice, 50.5 for commercial/industrial, 48.3 for multi-family residential, and 47.8 for institutional;
- project inquiries index is 61.2; and
- design contracts index is 51.6.