February's Architectural Billings Index (ABI) of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) rose two points from its historic low in January, but pointed to little, if any, strengthening in demand.
The February rating of 35.3 was well below the index score of 50 which indicates that an increase in billings. The ABI is considered a leading indicator of construction spending nine months out.
Demand is likely to remain light for the remainder of the year, said Kermit Baker, AIA chief economist.
"There is hope that the stimulus bill will result in more project activity, but that is also dependent on banks easing lending standards," he said.
The new project inquiries score was 49.5, edging closer to indication of architectural billings growth. Said Baker, "The improvement in the near future inquiries does provide hope that some stalled projects will resurface in the near future."