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ABI March 2021 Sees Continued Rise in Billings

Business conditions at architecture firms continued their turnaround in March, according to the American Institute of Architects, with a strong ABI score of 55.6 for the month―a score over 50 indicates billings growth. An even larger share of firms reported an increase in their billings than in February. In addition, inquiries into new work and the value of new design contracts both continued to rise, as an increasing number of clients are not only shopping projects around, but also signing contracts to begin new work.

Backlogs see growth

Backlogs at firms also rose dramatically from the fourth quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021, growing by nearly an entire month from 5.3 to 6.1 months. This is nearly back to the pre-pandemic peak of 6.5 months and means that firms have a solid supply of work in the pipeline if the economy falters in the coming months.

Firms in Midwest and South lead billings

Architecture firms in all regions of the country also reported improving business conditions in March, even those in the Northeast, which had seen weaker conditions even prior to the pandemic. Billings were strongest at firms located in the Midwest and South, with those in the Midwest reporting particularly strong growth following a soft winter, partially due to harsh weather conditions.

Commercial firms report higher billings

In addition, firms of all specializations reported billings growth this month, with the highest rate of growth reported by firms with commercial/industrial and institutional specializations, the two sectors hardest hit by the pandemic. Some firms are even reporting that their leisure and hospitality projects are starting to come back to life, as more people are vaccinated and start going out and traveling again.

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