Architectural billings, a leading indicator of construction spending, in February recovered much of the ground lost in the previous month, according to the latest American Institute of Architects' (AIA) Architectural Billings Index (ABI)monthly report.
The index in February reached 44.8, up more than two points from January. when the index slipped by nearly three points versus December. The new projects inquiry score was 52.0, a possible indication of better conditions ahead for architects, developers, builders and contractors.
Any score below 50 indicates a decline in demand for design services. Scores above 50 indicate an increase. The ABI is considered to indicate construction spending some nine to 12 months in the future.
The Midwest was the strongest region, with a 49.4 rating. The South was weakest at 40.7.
"We continue to hear that funding dedicated for construction projects in the stimulus package has not yet been awarded, resulting in a bottleneck of potential projects that could help jumpstart the economy," said Kermit Baker, AIA chief economist. "That, coupled with a persistently rigid credit market for private sector projects, is a key reason why the design and construction industry continue to suffer at near historic levels in terms of job losses."