ABI February 2021 Goes Positive
Architecture firm billings returned to the positive side in February for the first time in a year, with the American Institute of Architect’s Architecture Billings Index score climbing by more than eight points from January to a score of 53.3. Hopefully, this is the start of a more sustained recovery, say AIA analysts, however, it is possible that scores continue to bounce above and below 50 for the next few months, as recoveries often move in fits and starts.
Design Inquiries above 60
Indicators of future work also returned to the positive side this month, with inquiries climbing above 60 for the first time in nearly two years, and the value of new design contracts returning to growth for the first time since February 2020. All of these indicators are encouraging signs that business is beginning to return to many firms that had been struggling, say AIA analysts, and should continue to improve as the pace of vaccinations accelerates and the impact of the latest government stimulus continues to spread.
Southern firms see growth
Firms located in the South region of the country reported billings growth for the second consecutive month in February, while firms located in the West and Midwest saw only small declines, and look likely to return to growth soon themselves. Conditions remained softest at firms located in the Northeast, but the pace of the decline in firm billings slowed for the third month in a row. And firms with a commercial/industrial specialization, among the hardest hit by the pandemic, reported a very modest improvement in their business conditions this month, as industrial activity remains strong, and some restaurants and stores began to reopen. In addition, the pace of the decline in billings slowed at both multifamily residential and institutional firms.