Architecture billings index up, overall demand still down
The architecture billings index improved its score by nearly three points from September, though the 49.4 score still reflects low demand, according to the American Institute of Architects. The monthly index reflects a delay between architecture billings and construction spending of nine to 12 months. Any score below 50 indicates a decrease in demand for design work. The October index score jumped from 46.9 in September, though still down from 51.4 in August. "An increase in the billings index is always an encouraging sign," AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker said in the Wednesday release. "But there continues to be a high level of volatility in the marketplace with architecture firms reporting a wide range of conditions from improving to uncertain to poor." The index for inquiries on new projects increased as well to 57.3 from 54.3 in September. The Northeast saw the only increase in demand with an index reading of 51.7, followed by the South at 49.1, the Midwest at 47.7 and the West at 43.5. By sector, increased demand came in commercial/industrial (53.5) and multifamily residential (51.3), while institutional (47.3) and mixed practice (42) saw declining demand. The AIA calculates regional and sector categories as a 3-month moving average. The National Association of Home Builders also reported a rise in homebuilder confidence in a housing market index released Wednesday. But like the AIA, the overall homebuilder confidence score remains below an optimum level. Write to Andrew Scoggin. Follow him on Twitter @ascoggin.