November 4 The Architectural Billings Index (ABI) of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) turned positive in September for the first time since January 2008, indicating that design activity is increasing among architectural firms.
The September ABI reached 50.4, up from 48.2 the previous month. Any reading over 50 indicates an increase in billings. The Index is considered to be a nine- to 12-month leading indicator of construction activity.
Additionally, the new projects inquiry portion of the Index was up sharply 62.3 in September, from 54.6 the prior month.
"This is certainly encouraging news, but we will need to see consistent improvement over the next few months in order to feel comfortable about the state of the design and construction industry," said Kermit Baker, chief economist at the AIA.
"While there has been increasing demand for design services, it is happening at a slow rate and there continue to be other obstacles that are preventing a more accelerated recovery. Still, the strong upturn in design activity in the commercial and industrial sector certainly suggests that this upturn can possibly be sustained," he added.
Regionally, the Northeast (56.7) and Midwest (51.0) were in positive territory, while the South (47) and West (44.5) lagged behind.