AIA’s monthly Architecture Billings Index showed a continued rise in April, coming in at 57.9, which is 2.3 points higher than March's ABI of 55.6. This marks the ABI's third positive month since it dipped below 50 in February 2020. 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.

“This recent acceleration in the demand for design services demonstrates that both consumers and businesses are feeling much more confident about the economic outlook,” said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, in the Institute's press release. “The pent-up demand for new and retrofitted facilities is keeping architecture firms in all regions and building sectors busy.” New project inquiries reached new highs in April, increasing 4.0 points to 70.8 compared to 66.8 in March. The design contracts score also showed continued strength, rising 6.0 points to 61.7 compared to March's score of 55.7.

The month-to-month change in scores for regional billings—which, unlike the national score, are calculated as three-month moving averages—largely improved in April. Three out of four regions showed increased scores and all four regions reported scores above the threshold of 50. Billings in the Midwest rose 4.1 points to a score of 60.6, while billings in the West decreased 0.4 point to a score of 52.4. Billings in the South rose 2.5 points to a score of 58.3, and billings in the Northeast also rose 4.2 points to a score of 55.0.

Billings scores increased in all four individual industry sectors with all four sectors also reporting scores above the threshold of 50.0. The commercial/industrial sector rose 2.1 points to a score of 59.1; the institutional sector rose 2.3 points to a score of 56.7. The multifamily residential score rose 4.3 points to a score of 56.9; the mixed practice sector rose 0.1 point to a score of 55.0. Like the regional billings scores, sector billings scores are also calculated as three-month moving averages.