Architecture firms reported a sluggish start to 2024, as billings hit 46.2 in January. Any score below 50.0 indicates decreasing business conditions.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported that the monthly Architectural Billings Index (ABI) has experienced the lengthiest decline in billings since 2010. 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.

AIA chief economist Kermit Baker says the news isn’t all bad, however.

“It is reassuring that the pace of this decline is less rapid, and the broader economy showed improvement in January,” he explained. “Firms are seeing growth with inquiries into new projects, and the value of newly signed design contracts is holding steady, showing potential signs of interest from clients in new projects.”

AIA officials reported that business conditions remained weak at firms in all regions except the Midwest, where modest growth was seen in three of the last four months. Firms with a multifamily residential specialization continue to report the softest business conditions of all specializations.

Regionally, all but the Midwest (50.9) resided below the 50 mark. The South scored 45.2, the West’s reading was 46.6, and the Northeast hit 43.6. Additionally, the project inquiries index was 53.8, and the design contracts index was 49.7.

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