While architectural billings failed to show much progress during October, signs of improving business conditions at firms have emerged, according to a new report from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
The pace of decline during October remained at about the same level as in September, posting an ABI score of 47.5 (any score below 50 indicates a decline in firm billings). Meanwhile, firms reported a modest increase in new project inquiries—growing from 57.2 in September to 59.1 in October—and newly signed design contracts jumped into positive territory for the first time since the pandemic began, with a score of 51.7.
“Though still in negative territory, the moderating billings score along with the rebound in design contracts and inquiries provide some guarded optimism,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “The pace of recovery will continue to vary across regions and sectors.”
Key ABI highlights for October include:
- Regional averages: West (50.4); Midwest (49.4); South (45.8); Northeast (44.9)
- Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (55.1); mixed practice (52.7); commercial/industrial (48.0); institutional (42.2)
- Project inquiries index: 59.1
- Design contracts index: 51.7
The regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers.