ABI Declines for Third Consecutive Month
Business conditions at architecture firms remained extremely poor for the third consecutive month in May. While the Architectural Billing Index score of 32.0 for the month, compiled by the American Institute of Architects, was somewhat higher than the April score, it still indicates that the majority of firms saw their billings decrease yet again―any score below 50 indicates declining billings. Indicators of future work remained grim as well, say analysts, and while a larger share of firms reported an increase in inquiries into new projects in May than in April, most firms still saw a decline. In addition, the value of new signed design contracts remained at a near record-low level, as firms indicated that clients are still extremely hesitant to sign on the dotted line for new work.
Business conditions remained also very soft across all regions of the country in May, with firms located in the Northeast continuing to report the steepest decline in billings. However, since construction projects have now been permitted to restart in most areas where they had been temporarily shuttered, the firms hardest hit by that shutdown, which are predominantly located in the Northeast, may see somewhat less dismal conditions in June. Firms of all specializations also continued to report very weak firm billings this month, with conditions deteriorating even further at firms with a commercial/industrial specialization, which have been hardest hit so far during this downturn.