AIA’s monthly Architecture Billings Index for April came in at a score of 29.5, a 3.8-point decrease from March's dramatic fall to 33.3. The ABI is a leading economic indicator of construction activity in the U.S. and reflects a nine- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending nationally, regionally, and by project type. A score above 50 represents an increase in billings from the previous month, while a score below 50 represents a contraction.
"With the dramatic deceleration that we have seen in the economy since mid-March, it’s not surprising that businesses and households are waiting for signs of stability before proceeding with new facilities,” said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, in an AIA press release. “Once business activity resumes, demand for design services should pick up fairly quickly. Unfortunately, the precipitous drop in demand for design services will have lasting consequences for some firms.” Design contracts remained largely unchanged at a score of 27.6.
The scores for regional billings—which, unlike the national score, are calculated as three-month moving averages—fell further in April with all four regions reporting scores below the threshold of 50. Billings in the Midwest fell 13 points to a score of 31.2, while billings in the South fell 13.1 points to a score of 31.1. Billings in the West fell 7.2 points to a score of 38.1, while billings in the Northeast fell 15.4 points to a score of 23.
Billings scores also fell in all four individual industry sectors, to below the threshold of 50. The commercial/industrial sector fell by 14.1 points to a score of 27.8. The institutional sector decreased by 10.8 points to a score of 36.1. The multifamily residential score fell by 13 points to a score of 30.3. The mixed practice sector decreased by 11.6 points to 29. Like the regional billings scores, sector billings scores are also calculated as three-month moving averages.