The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has released new data from the AIA/Deltek Architecture Billings Index (ABI) for March, painting a somber picture for the architecture industry. Billings at architecture firms have experienced a sustained decline for the 14th consecutive month, as indicated by the ABI score of 43.6. The downturn reflects continued economic challenges such as persistent inflation and supply chain disruptions.

Dr. Kermit Baker, AIA Chief Economist, highlighted the key factors affecting the industry: "Elevated construction costs coupled with prolonged high interest rates continue to discourage new project activity." However, he also noted a silver lining as institutional design work displays signs of stabilization, offering a modest foundation amid hopes for a more robust economic climate conducive to construction.

The impact is widespread, with all American regions recording a downturn in billings. Firms located in the Midwest and the South were hit the hardest this month. Furthermore, the data suggests that firms with a commercial/industrial specialization are facing an accelerated pace of decline in billings compared to other specializations.

The ABI serves as a leading economic indicator of construction activity, with the score reflecting a forecast of nonresidential construction spending approximately nine to twelve months ahead. The index is calculated from a monthly survey of architecture firms, which measures fluctuations in the volume of services provided to clients.

Key findings from the ABI for March show:

  • Regional averages with the Northeast at 46.0, Midwest at 45.2, South at 45.3, and West at 47.6.
  • Sector index breakdown with commercial/industrial at 42.9, institutional at 49.9, mixed practice at 48.3, and multifamily residential at 44.2.
  • The project inquiries index was reported at 54.9.
  • The design contracts index stood at 50.0.

It is important to note that the regional and sector categories are based on three-month moving averages, which might not align perfectly with the national score.

For more detailed information regarding the architecture billings and past reports, the AIA encourages interested parties to visit their official website.