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Architecture billings climb into positive territory after a year of monthly declines

2021 03 ABI Architecture billings index February march .jpg

 
The Most Recent Report:   March 24, 2021

WASHINGTON – March 24, 2021 – Continuing the positive momentum of a nearly three-point bump in January, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) reached its first positive mark since February 2020, according to a new report today from The American Institute of Architects (AIA).

AIA’s 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: South (52.4); West (49.5); Midwest (49.3); Northeast (46.9)
  • Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (52.5); commercial/industrial (50.5); multi-family residential (48.3); institutional (47.8)
  • Project inquiries index: 61.2
  • Design contracts index: 51.6

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.

 

Interpreting the ABI:

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) is a leading economic indicator for nonresidential construction activity, with a lead time of approximately 9–12 months. The index is derived from The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Work-on-the-Boards survey, which has gathered data on shifts in billings from architectural firm leaders for over 20 years.

The survey panel asks participating architectural firms whether billings increased, decreased or stayed the same in the month that just ended. According to the proportion of respondents choosing each option, a score is generated, which represents an index value for each month.

  • An index score of 50 indicates no change in firm billings versus the previous month.
  • A score above 50 indicates an increase in firm billings versus the previous month.
  • A score below 50 indicates an decrease in firm billings versus the previous month.
  • NOTE: Index numbers cited for the last three reported months are preliminary.
  • The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers.

 

Source:  The American Institute of Architects (AIA)

National Architecture Billings Index

NATIONAL | amCharts

Source: The American Institute of Architects (AIA)

RELATED: Historical ABI Data 2008 - 2019 »

 

 

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Regional Architecture Billings Index

(Three month rolling average)

ABI REGION 2019 | amCharts

Source: The American Institute of Architects (AIA)

Sector-Specific Architecture Billings Index

Three-month rolling average

Commercial/Industrial
Buildings related to commerce and industry. Office space, banks, retail, factories, etc.

Institutional
Schools, civic/government buildings, museums, hospitals, etc.

Multifamily Residential
Town homes, apartment complexes, condominiums, etc.

Mixed Practice
Buildings that include both residential and commercial/industrial spaces.

ABI by Sector | amCharts

Source: The American Institute of Architects (AIA)

 

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