2023 Ends with Continued Weak Business Conditions for Architecture Firms, AIA/Deltek ABI Finds

by | Jan 26, 2024 | News

WASHINGTON – January 24, 2024 – The AIA/Deltek Architecture Billings Index (ABI) remained below 50 for December, indicating soft business conditions to close out 2023. The score of 45.4 remained essentially flat from November. Any score below 50.0 indicates decreasing business conditions but there are encouraging signs of the pipeline.

“Billings at firms declined for eight months of the year, and the last four months saw this overall weakness accelerate,” said Kermit Baker, PhD, AIA Chief Economist. ” Fortunately, project backlogs at firms eased only slightly through the year despite the overall reported softness in billings.”

Firm billings declined at firms in all regions of the country except the Midwest in December, where billings were essentially flat. Business conditions were also weak for most of the year at firms of all specializations, with firms with a multifamily residential specialization experiencing a particularly challenging year.

In addition, most firms report that over the past six months at least some of their projects have been significantly delayed, put on hold, or even cancelled. On average, almost 30% of projects on a dollar basis have fallen into one of these categories.

The ABI score is a leading economic indicator of construction activity, providing an approximately nine-to-twelve-month glimpse into the future of nonresidential construction spending activity. The score is derived from a monthly survey of architecture firms that measures the change in the number of services provided to clients.

Key ABI highlights for December include:

  • Regional averages: Northeast (45.9); Midwest (50.3); South (43.4); West (45.3)
  • Sector index breakdown: commercial/industrial (46.4); institutional (46.5); mixed practice (firms that do not have at least half of their billings in any one other category) (42.3); multifamily residential (45.8)
  • Project inquiries index: 53.1
  • Design contracts index: 50.0
  • The regional and sector categories are calculated as three-month moving averages and may not always average out to the national score.

Learn more about the December ABI, and past billing index reports.

About AIA

Founded in 1857, AIA consistently works to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through more than 200 international, state, and local chapters, AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public well-being.

AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation, and world. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards.

About Deltek

Better software means better projects. Deltek is the leading global provider of enterprise software and information solutions for project-based businesses and the home of AIA MasterSpec®. More than 30,000 organizations, including 12,000 Architecture & Engineering firms, rely on Deltek for superior levels of project intelligence, management, and collaboration. Our industry-focused expertise powers project success for A&E firms of all sizes by helping them achieve performance that maximizes productivity and revenue. Learn more at Deltek.