Architecture Billings Index (ABI)

The Architecture Billings Index is an economic indicator for nonresidential construction activity, with a lead time of approximately 9–12 months. Investment groups like Wells Fargo, media outlets, firms of all sizes, and business leaders rely on this leading monthly economic indicator to assess business conditions and predict and track the market.

The index is derived from AIA’s Work-on-the-Boards survey, which has gathered data on shifts in billings from architectural firm leaders for over 20 years. This data is a trusted tool used by the design and construction industry and other firms to predict and track movements in the market

Examples of the ABI in use:

  • Firm strategic planning: ADD Inc., a multidisciplinary design firm with 200 employees, uses the ABI to help prepare for market fluctuations and ramp-up hiring.
  • Determining business cycle shifts: Johnson Controls, which provides buildings services, looks to ABI for an early picture of construction trends to use in resource planning and stockholder guidance—and to identify expansion opportunities.
  • Timing in a changing economy: One of the largest privately held family-owned real estate development and construction firms, Gilbane Inc., finds the ABI vital to help manage budgets, prepare for market movements, manage RFPs and seek leads.

Need more examples of how to use the ABI?

Use our whitepapers to help you maximize its value.

2014 White Paper, “Designing the Construction Future: Reviewing the Performance and Extending the Applications of the AIA’s Architecture Billings Index"

2005 White Paper, “Architecture Billings as a Leading Indicator of Construction: Analysis of the Relationship Between a Billings Index and Construction Spending”

Are you an architecture firm owner or principal?

Participate in our monthly survey to compare your firm to others, track the economy and local business conditions, and use data to target business opportunities.

Join  the Work-on-the-Boards panel >

ABI release dates:

Check out the ABI when it’s released for a first look. Visit us on December 18 to stay up on the latest.

Note: In January our research team revises the historical seasonal adjustment factors, which may lead to updated ABI scores from previous months.

ABI October 2019: Business conditions at architecture firms rebound

Profitability remains strong, but firms anticipate a slowdown in revenue growth in 2020.

ABI September 2019: Firm billings remain sluggish

More than half of firms have seen significant project delays, changes, or cancellations this year.

ABI August 2019: A significant setback in business conditions

As architecture firms report a rare decline in both billings on current projects and new work coming in, many beginning to consider international opportunities.

ABI July 2019: Billings remain flat, indicators of future work continue to soften

80 percent of firms offer their employees the option to work remotely.

ABI June 2019: Architecture firms report another setback in billings

In the past year, nearly four in ten firms have seen a direct impact on their projects from tariff-related concerns.

ABI May 2019: Billings growth remains modest at architecture firms

Additions and remodels to existing buildings account for nearly half of firm billings.

ABI April 2019: Billings return to the plus side, but growth remains soft

Just over half of firms report clients feeling at least somewhat nervous about ongoing economic uncertainty.

ABI March 2019: Billings decline amidst concern about potential slowdown

Trends in staff turnover are pushing firms to provide increased career development opportunities.

ABI February 2019: After a strong start to the year, billings stabilize

After a surprisingly strong showing in January, business conditions at architecture firms showed little improvement in February.

ABI January 2019: Firms open the year strong

This month's ABI score ended up being the highest in more than two years and substantially higher than the modest growth seen throughout 2018.

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