Architects participating in the American Institute of Architects' (AIA) Work-On-the-Boards survey said their billings declined again in August, the seventh month in a row that architecture firms have reported a slowdown in activity. But the score of 47.6 indicates that conditions may be moderating.
According to an article posted on www.aia.org by Jennifer Riskus, AIA's economics and markets research manager, the pace of the decline has slowed considerably since the national Architecture Billings Index (ABI) reported its lowest score ever in March. The August ABI score of 47.6 indicates that conditions may be moderating. More firms are starting to see business conditions improve, although they continue to be outweighted by firms seeing weakness. Inquiries for new projects were above 50 for the third month in a row. Firms located in the Midwest and West are reporting that business conditions are stabilizing and billings continue to grow for firms with an institutional specialization.
Firms with a residential specialization continue to report weak business conditions as do firms with a commercial/industrial specialization. Both sectors have had scores below 50 for the entire year thus far.
Business conditions continue to be depressed in all regions of the country in August, with firms in the Northeast reporting the slowest pace of billings growth for the second month in a row. Firms in the West have begun showing signs of an upturn in the last two months as the score approaches 50, indicating that billings at firms in that region are beginning to moderate.
More than half (55 percent) of the survey panelists report that backlogs at their firm are either modestly or substantially lower than they were in the beginning of the year. Just one-fifth indicated that backlogs are higher now than they were in early 2008. Backlogs at architecture firms currently average 5.1 months but are nearly two months longer for large firms.