Architecture billings softened for a third consecutive month in December, reports American Institute of Architects (AIA) in its monthly Architecture Billings Index (ABI).

December’s ABI score of 47.5 was a slight improvement over November’s tally of 46.6. But the number remains below the 50-score threshold (any score below 50 indicates a decline in billings).

“Despite strong revenue growth last year, architecture firms have modest expectations regarding business conditions this coming year,” says AIA chief economist Kermit Baker. “With ABI scores for the entire fourth quarter of 2022 in negative territory, a slowdown in construction activity is expected later this year, though the depth of the downturn remains unclear.”

Business conditions remained soft across the country in December, as billings declined in all regions for the second consecutive month. The Midwest posted the highest score (49.4), the South scored 48.6, the Northeast scored 46.5, and the West scored 45.5.

Billings declined at firms of all specializations in December, with the weakest conditions reported at firms with a multifamily residential specialization. Even firms with an institutional specialization saw a more significant decline in billings. Overall, the commercial/industrial sector reported a score of 45.2, institutional scored 47.3, and residential scored 44.3.