Architecture firm billings remained soft in April, as reflected in the latest AIA/Deltek Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score of 48.3. Although this is an improvement from March’s score of 43.6, it still indicates a decline in billings at most architecture firms. Despite a slight dip in newly signed design contracts, client interest persists, with an increase in inquiries into new projects.

“These findings indicate that while there is still caution among clients, there are also positive signs with increasing inquiries into new projects,” said Kermit Baker, PhD, AIA Chief Economist. “Continued high interest rates make it difficult for some projects to move forward, but there is ongoing interest in pursuing these projects once conditions improve. In the meantime, design activity is expected to remain sluggish.”

Billings continued to decline across all regions, with firms located in the Midwest and South reporting the sharpest drops. Firms specializing in multifamily residential projects reported the weakest conditions, mirroring the broader trend of softness across all specializations.

The ABI score serves as a leading economic indicator of construction activity, offering a nine-to-twelve-month forecast of nonresidential construction spending. The score is derived from a monthly survey of architecture firms, measuring changes in the number of services provided to clients.

Key ABI highlights for April include:

· Regional averages: Northeast (45.9); Midwest (44.2); South (44.7); West (47.8)

· Sector index breakdown: commercial/industrial (47.4); institutional (46.1); mixed practice (firms that do not have at least half of their billings in any one other category) (43.9); multifamily residential (45.6)

· Project inquiries index: 54.8

· Design contracts index: 49.2

The regional and sector categories are calculated as three-month moving averages and may not always average out to the national score.

Visit AIA’s website for detailed information about this, and past billing index reports.