In our last Economic Indicator report dated June 2020 (Q2), we concluded with the following statement:
“Given the information I have today, I prefer to keep a “glass half full” view and will continue to watch and report on the quality and quantity of our backlog as we move through 2020 and 2021. In conversations with our clients, I find most remain optimistic, and as a result, our backlog remains solid. We have seen a slight drop in the number of new opportunities, and that is understandable. As a result, we see an increase in bidding competition, which will ultimately lead to lower prices for our clients. If your business continues to thrive, and you are considering expanding, now is a great time to get a better “bang-for-your-buck.”
As a warning to our readers, I am generally an optimistic person, and after reviewing the data for Q3 2020, I remain sitting at my desk with my “glass half full.” Take a glance at the front cover summary of the four measurements we track. The two lead indicators, The Architect Billing index and the Dodge Momentum Indicator, show numbers that look like recovery progress.
Specifically, the Architect’s Billing Index, which bottomed in April 2020, shows an upward trend over the past 5 months: 29.3, 32, 40, 40, 40, 47. The September score of 47 is below the standard of 50, indicating a growth in the architect’s billing across the industry. However, the upward trend does hint at recovery.
The next lead indicator-measurement to dig into is the Dodge Momentum Index. Again, this index is on a steady 3-month upward trend: 121.5 (low point), 124.7, 126.2, 130.8. The highest point we’ve recorded in our analysis is 156. 2 (recorded in December 2019). Again, the story here is increasing opportunities for bidding beginning in the summer of 2021.
To conclude our Q3 analysis, our backlog remains strong, and our clients remain optimistic. Many of our industrial clients are scheduling renovation work to meet current and future demand, and many of our healthcare clients are actively looking at their backfill-renovation needs for 2021. I still expect overall industry volume to remain lower in 2021 than it was pre-COVID, and as a result, pricing to remain more competitive for our clients.