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Architectural Billings, Contracts Reach First Positive Mark Since Early 2020

Coronavirus Resources and Information

Architectural Billings, Contracts Reach First Positive Mark Since Early 2020

March 26, 2021
Photo: bernardbodo

The Architecture Billings Index achieved positive marks for the first time since February 2020, a sign architects are beginning to see promising growth. The index is seen as an indicator for future construction spending, says Construction Dive. Any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings and the billings index went from 44.9 in January to 53.3 in February. The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) design contract score also reached its first positive score since the onset of the pandemic last month. AIA’s chief economist says these numbers are encouraging, but should be taken with a grain of salt.

The index fell by 20.1 points to a score of 33.3 in March 2020, the largest single-month decline in its nearly 25-year history, far surpassing the declines of 9.4 points seen at the start of the 2001 recession and 8.3 points seen at the start of the Great Recession. 

The growing number of administered vaccines likely has to do with the increase in billings and confidence, Baker said, as does the pent-up demand for new economic activity. The outlook varies slightly by region of the country, according to AIA’s geographic breakdown:

South (52.4).
West (49.5).
Midwest (49.3).
Northeast (46.9).
Billings have remained strong in the South throughout the pandemic, Baker said, and have begun to rebound in the West and Midwest. The Northeast has struggled, and Baker said it is not yet clear why. 

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