Architecture Billings Continue Decline
21. May 2020
Image via AIA.org
After March saw a historic drop of the American Institute of Architects' Architecture Billings Index to 33.3, the ABI score dropped further in April to 29.3, "a new all-time low for the index."
The ABI measures billings at AIA-member firms in the United States for non-residential work, with 50 serving as the baseline: a number above 50 reflects increased billings, while one below indicates decreased billings. Per the AIA, the monthly index is relied upon by investment groups, media outlets, firms, and business leaders "to assess business conditions and predict and track the market."
The nearly 25-year-old ABI has been consistently between 50 and 55 since 2013, following the rebound from the 2008 Great Recession. For reference, at the end of 2008 the ABI was around 35, then an all-time low. But with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting every aspect of the economy, the ABI has dipped lower — and much faster.
Some other sobering bits of information from AIA's April index:
- More than eight in 10 firms have applied for PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loans;
- Regionally, the ABI is most pronounced in the Northeast, where the coronavirus pandemic has hit hardest, with an index of 23.0;
- 14% of firms have furloughed architecture staff;
- The construction sector declined by 975,000 employees; architecture employment figures lag one month behind, so it's too early to see how many of the country's 200,000 architects (as of February) are out of work.