The Architectural Billing Index of the American Institute of Architects rose slightly more than a point in September, to stand at 43.1, up from 41.7. This was a return to the June level after two months of decline.
The index remains in negative territoryanything under 50 indicates a decline in demand for architectural services.
However inquiries for new projects moved higher in positive territory last month, rising to 59.1 from 55.2 in August. This was the highest level for new work inquiries in two years.
"The fact that inquires for new project are so high is an encouraging sign that we may be seeing new construction activity entering the design phase," said Kermit Baker, AIA chief economist. "But that optimism has to be tempered by the fact that the marketplace is so competitive that firms are broadening their search for new projects, thereby inflating the number of inquiries that they are reporting. However, some larger stimulus-funded building activity should be coming online over the next several months, partially offsetting the steep decline in private commercial construction."