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

“Unfortunately, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many architecture firms are finding fewer inquiries that convert to billable projects,” said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, in the Institute's press release. “While fewer firms reported declining billings in August than during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fact that the score has been unchanged for the last three months shows that the recovery from this downturn is not progressing at the pace we had hoped to see.” New project inquiries increased slightly from 49.1 in July to 51.6 in August, and design contracts increased more measurably from 41.7 in July to 46.0 in August.

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 August, with all four regions continuing to report scores below the threshold of 50. Billings in the Midwest rose 1.6 points to a score of 41.7, while billings in the South rose 0.9 point to a score of 41.6. Billings in the West rose 0.4 point to a score of 41.3, while billings in the Northeast decreased 2.9 points to a score of 33.9.

Billings score mildly improved in all four individual industry sectors though the scores also remain below the threshold of 50. The commercial/industrial sector rose 0.1 point to a score of 35.5; the institutional sector rose 0.7 point to a score of 40.2. The multifamily residential score rose 1.9 points to a score of 49.4; the mixed practice sector decreased by 2.1 points to 41.9. Like the regional billings scores, sector billings scores are also calculated as three-month moving averages.