Continuing a marginal but still persistent decline recorded earlier in the year, the American Institute of Architects is seeing a more than 1 point decline in its latest Architecture Billings Index.
That index, running on a 0 to 100 scale, charts the billing activity of the nation’s architectural firms. A total index score of less than 50 means that firms experiencing a decrease in new billings are more numerous than firms reporting increased billings.
The latest index results show an overall industry score in November of 46.3, down from 47.5 the month before.
An index charting the value of newly-signed design contracts was also on the downside, dropping from 51.7 in October to 48.6 last month.
Regionally, the index reveals the Midwest reporting the strongest numbers at 50.1, followed by the West at 48.3, and the South at 46.7. The Northeast saw the lowest numbers at 38.7.
For all of that, respondents to the index survey expressed a degree of optimism regarding business prospect in 2021, with a buoyant 7% saying that they expect it will be a great year.
The largest category response saw 39% anticipating a good year, with another 25% predicting a moderate, or “so-so year.”
A troubling 4% of respondents are anticipating that 2021 could prove ruinous to their firms.
In looking at the overall numbers, Kermit Baker, chief economist with the AIA, remarked: “In previous design cycles, we typically haven’t seen a straight line back to growth after a downturn hits.”
In appraising this year’s Covid-19 outbreak and national economic shutdown, Baker added: “The path to recovery is shaping up to be bumpier than we hoped for. While there are pockets of optimism in design services demand, the overall construction landscape remains depressed.”
By Garry Boulard
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