ABI February Score Shows Healthy Gains as Industry Faces Future Economic Uncertainty
February marked the sixth straight of month of revenue growth for architecture firms, according to the Architecture Billings Index, compiled by the American Institute of Architects. The score of 53.4 for the month reflected the strongest growth in billings at firms over this six-month period, demonstrating a healthy start to the year through the first two months. Project inquiries and new design contracts also showed healthy gains, although both grew at a slower pace than in January. The score for project inquiries was 56.5, somewhat below the average of recent months. The new design contracts score was 52.0, again a solid figure, but suggesting slower growth in new project work coming into architecture firms as compared to recent months.
Regionally, billings scores at firms in the Northeast and West were essentially flat from their January readings. Even though firms in the Northeast recorded a very modest decline for the month, it was the strongest reading in over a year. Conversely, firms in the West also saw a very modest drop in billings, but this was the first hint of softness in this region in nine months. Firms in the Midwest and South were seeing uniformly healthy business conditions in February. Growth in billings at Midwestern firms was at its strongest level in over a year, while Southern firms reported their highest reading in several years.
By sector, firms of all specializations were seeing healthy conditions in February. Multifamily residential firms extended their string of growth to seven straight months with a billings score of 53.5. Institutional firms and commercial/industrial firms were doing almost as well, with billings scores for the month of 52.8 and 52.4 respectively. February was the third straight monthly gain for institutional firms, and the fifth straight month for those specializing in the commercial/industrial sector.