Architectural Billings Slip In May

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After hitting their highest point in more than two years in April, billings reported by architectural firms fell back in May, as measured by the Architectural Billings Index (ABI) of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

May's ABI of 45.8 was nearly three points lower than April's 48.4 reading.

Any index score below 50 means a decline in billings, above signifies billings are increasing. The ABI is considered a nine to twelve month leading indicator of construction spending.

Firms in the Northeast and those specializing in commercial/industrial jobs both posted scores over 50 in May, suggesting a rebound in business conditions at least in some sectors of the economy.

Firms in the Midwest also appear to be well on the way to a recovery, posting scores in the high 40's, after a severe fall in late 2008 and early 2009. The Western region continues to lag behind the rest of the U.S. with an index score of 42.9.

"This dip is somewhat of a surprise since it appeared that conditions were pointing towards a recovery," said Kermit Baker, AIA chief economist. "The overriding issue affecting the entire real estate sector is unusual caution on the part of lending institutions to provide credit for construction projects that apparently would be successful in this economic environment."

Read the AIA news release here.