Survey: Iowa architects concerned about the economy

The overall state of the economy is the top concern of respondents to the Iowa Chapter of the American Institute of Architects’ third-quarter market survey, moving up from the third spot in the second quarter.

Nearly 30 Iowa architectural firms responded to the survey, which asked about active projects and project types, clients and business concerns.

In the second quarter, about one-third of respondents indicated they had “great concern” about the overall economy, ranking it third behind workforce and rising interest rates.

In the most recent survey, nearly 95% of respondents indicated that they either had great or some concern about the economy. In addition, about 85% had great or some concern about rising interest rates, and about 80% had great or some concern about issues related to the workforce.

Jessica Reinert
Jessica Reinert

This is the first year the Iowa AIA has conducted in-depth quarterly surveys about the market. The architectural profession typically serves as a barometer for the amount of construction activity that is likely to occur in nine to 12 months.

“Activity for large projects, those that are $10 to $50 million in construction value, increased from 19% of the work being done by firms [in the second quarter] to 28% of the work” in the third quarter, wrote Jessica Reinert, executive director of the AIA, Iowa Chapter. “Sectors that are anticipated to continue to show growth into 2024 include K-12 and higher education [because of] federal and state funding for improvements and updates to school infrastructure.”

Multifamily residential projects have also increased, she wrote.

In the third quarter, 25% of architect firms’ clients were state or local governments, up slightly from the second quarter, the survey showed. About 16% of clients were from the business, commercial and industrial sectors.

Fifty percent of firms indicated they were hiring additional employees; no firms reported the need to lay off workers.

“The current status of Iowa’s architectural firms is strong, there is still plenty of work to be completed by Iowa architecture firms,” Reinert wrote. “We have seen a slight slowdown in new hires, but firms that have diversified and engage in work across market sectors have an adequate number of projects on the books.”

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