AIA’s monthly Architecture Billings Index displayed stalled billings for July, posting a score of 40.0 and remaining level with June's score. 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.

“It’s clear the pandemic continued to contribute to uncertainty in business conditions, especially as cases spiked in states across the country,” said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, in a press release. “While clients expressed interest in exploring new projects, many are hesitant to sign onto new contracts with the exception of the multifamily residential sector, which came close to seeing billings growth in July.” New project inquiries fell slightly from 49.3 in June to 49.1 in July; design contracts declined more notably from 44.0 in June to 41.7 in July.

The month-to-month change in scores for regional billings—which, unlike the national score, are calculated as three-month moving averages—slightly improved in July, with all four regions continuing to report scores below the threshold of 50. Billings in the Midwest rose 3.3 points to a score of 40.1, while billings in the South rose 4.8 points to a score of 40.7. Billings in the West rose 4.1 points to a score of 40.9, and billings in the Northeast increased 2.6 points to a score of 36.8.

Billings score declines also improved in all four individual industry sectors, though the scores also remain below the threshold of 50. The commercial/industrial sector rose 5.3 points to a score of 35.4; the institutional sector rose 0.6 point to a score of 39.5; the multifamily residential score rose 2.8 points to a score of 47.5; and the mixed practice sector increased by 8.7 points to 44.0. Like the regional billings scores, sector billings scores are also calculated as three-month moving averages.