ABI: October Shows Slowing Pace of Billings Decline
Business conditions at architecture firms moved slowly towards recovery in October, according to the American Institute of Architects, as the pace of the decline in firm billings continued to slow.
The ABI score rose slightly from September to a score of 47.5 in October, indicating that the share of firms seeing their billings decline shrank further; an ABI score below 50 indicates a billings decline. In addition, indicators of future work strengthened, with inquiries into new projects climbing to their highest level in nearly a year, and the value of new design contracts growing for the first time since February. This means that not only are clients talking to firms about potential projects; they’re signing on the dotted line to start those projects. Both of these indicators are encouraging signs that business is slowly, but steadily, returning at many firms.
Western firms, multifamily firms lead in billings
Despite encouraging numbers overall, firms in many areas of the country are still seeing relatively weak business conditions. However, billings returned to the positive side at firms located in the West for the first time in nine months in October, and conditions approached growth at firms located in the Midwest. By firm specialization, business conditions continued to strengthen at firms with a multifamily residential specialization, reaching their highest level in more than two years. In addition, the pace of the decline in billings has slowed substantially at firms with a commercial/industrial specialization; now firms with an institutional specialization are experiencing the softest conditions.