AIA data shows September’s ABI score was 44.8, the sharpest decline observed since the pandemic’s peak, says Kermit Baker, AIA’s chief economist.

The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Architecture Billings Index (ABI) reported its lowest score since December 2020. AIA data shows September’s ABI score was 44.8, the sharpest decline observed since the pandemic’s peak, says Kermit Baker, AIA’s chief economist. August’s ABI score was 48.1. 

Any score below 50.0 indicates decreasing business conditions. 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. 

“While more firms are reporting a decrease in billings, the report also shows the hesitance among clients to commit to new projects with a slump in newly signed design contracts,” says Baker. “As a result, backlogs at architecture firms fell to 6.5 months on average in the third quarter, their lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2021.” 

Each region of the U.S. reported declining billings, with firms in the West facing particularly challenging conditions (44.3). The Northeast averaged 46.4, the South 46.2 and the Midwest 49.3. 

Institutional firms remained flat (50.1), while all other sectors reported declining billings. Firms with a multifamily residential specialization (43.5) saw more declines, continuing a decreased growth pattern since August 2022. The project inquiries index average was 53.7, and the design contracts index was 46.2.  

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