Architects participating in the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Work-On-the-Boards survey said their billings slowed down again in April, the third straight month that architecture firms have reported a slowdown in activity. However, the decline showed signs of moderating this past month, as the AIA Architecture Billings Index was less negative in April than in February or March. Firms in all regions reported weakening business conditions. Institutional firms held steady again in April, while conditions continued to decline steeply at residential and commercial/industrial firms.
According to an article posted on www.aia.org by Kermit Baker, AIA's chief economist, the downturn in business activity at architecture firms continued in April, as a weakening economy and ongoing problems in credit markets dampened the outlook for nonresidential facilities. The national Architecture Billings Index (ABI) reading of 45.5 indicates weakness in design activity, though a higher score than in February or March indicates that the slowdown moderated. Inquiries for new projects also showed some improvement, all hopefully suggesting that this current nonresidential downturn may be relatively mild.
The weakness in nonresidential activity is sufficiently pronounced that all regions of the country have been affected. Firms in the West are currently reporting the weakest conditions, although firms in the Northwest and Midwest are also seeing significant downturns. Firms in the South have reported the mildest slowdown to date.
Commercial/industrial firms have witnessed a steep drop in activity since the end of last year. In contrast, institutional firms are still seeing steady business conditions. The ABI score for institutional firms stood at 50.4 in April.