Demand for non-residential design and construction is forecast to remain solid at least through the end of this year, according to the Architecture Billing Index of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
The latest Index (April) stood at 52.7, just one-tenth of a point higher than in March. Any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings. The Index is recognized as a leading indicator of construction activity.
Inquiries for new projects jumped two full points month to month, to 63.8. With a lag of some nine to 12 months between architectural billings and construction spending, the index suggests that the non-residential construction market will remain strong at least through 2007.
"We have seen positive conditions all five months of the year so far," said Kermit Baker, AIA chief economist. "After starting off with very high numbers, the Index has leveled off lately with sustained, moderate expansion," he said.
Kermit also added a note of caution. "Despite the favorable economic forecast, there is still concern about inflation in energy, raw materials and labor costs," he said.