AIA Billings Index Points to Continued Struggle for Work

The average architecture firm surveyed for the AIA’s Architectural Billing Index (ABI) expects revenues will decrease 4.6% in the third quarter from the second quarter, with firms specializing in commercial/industrial work predicting a 5.7% decline, the AIA reports. The commercial/industrial slump was offset in part by
responses from firms specializing in multifamily housing; that group expects revenue to be flat from the second quarter to the third.

July’s ABI score of 40.0 was unchanged from June. “Inquiries into new projects continued to show just a modest decline, but more seriously, the value of new signed design contracts slipped from its June level,” AIA reported. “Unfortunately, with the continued resurgence in COVID-19 cases in many areas of the country, clients may be interested in starting new projects, but remain reluctant to sign on the dotted line.”

AIA’s survey also found 85% of responding firms got a Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan. Now that support from the program is winding down, 52% said they expect to take staffing-related actions. Roughly a quarter of that 52% expect to lay off full-time employees and one quarter expect to reduce hours. On the other hand, 7% of the 52% play to hire additional staff.