The American Institute of Architects reported that the monthly Architectural Billings Index remained below 50 (45.4) in December 2023. Photo courtesy of AIA.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported that the monthly Architectural Billings Index (ABI) remained below 50 (45.4) in December 2023. Any reading under 50 signifies a decline in billings from the previous month.

The ABI is a leading economic indicator of construction activity, providing an approximately nine- to 12-month glimpse into the future of nonresidential construction spending activity.

“Billings at firms declined for eight months of the year, and the last four months saw this overall weakness accelerate,” says AIA chief economist Kermit Baker. “Fortunately, project backlogs at firms eased only slightly through the year despite the overall reported softness in billings.”

According to AIA, billings declined at firms in all regions of the country except the Midwest (50.3). Billings in the Northeast were 45.9, 43.4 in the South, and 45.3 in the West.

Business conditions were also weak most of the year at firms of all specializations, especially in the multifamily residential specialization. AIA officials add that most firms reported that over the past six months, several of their projects have been delayed, put on hold or canceled.

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