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.
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ABI June 2020: Business conditions at architecture firms begin to stabilize, fewer firms report declining billings this month
38% of firms predict a decrease in architecture staff at their firm by the end of the year, while 17% expect an increase
ABI May 2020: Architecture firms report steep decline in billings for third consecutive month
More than one third of firms have had client discussions about changing needs for facilities in the post-pandemic built environment
ABI April 2020: Business conditions at architecture firms weaken even further
Following last month’s precipitous decline, billings at architecture firms sank even lower in April, as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to have a severe impact on firm business.
ABI March 2020: Architecture firm billings plummet as a result of the global pandemic
Billings at architecture firms plummeted in March as the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) fell by 20.1 points to a score of 33.3 for the month
March 2020 Special Report: Moving ahead, challenging times confront the design professions
Like most other businesses, U.S. architecture firms are heading into uncharted waters regarding what the economy holds in store for them as the COVID-19 pandemic plays out globally.
ABI February 2020: A solid business performance heading into a period of economic upheaval
February marked the sixth straight of month of revenue growth for architecture firms
ABI January 2020: Firm billings continue to expand in the new year
Despite staffing challenges, few firms are outsourcing domestic design work offshore