Although some key market indicators, including a recent survey of backlogs by the Associated Builders and Contractors Inc., show construction activity in the Midwest trailing activity in the South and Northeast, the region led in February's Architectural Billings Index (ABI), according to the Washington D.C.-based American Institute of Architects.

The index, which provides a glimpse of future nonresidential construction spending activity, remained in positive territory in February for the fourth month in a row, with a score of 51.0, up from 50.9 in January. By comparison, the Midwest regional average score was 56.0, followed by the South with 51.3, the East with 51.0 and the West with 45.6. Any measure above 50 indicates expansion and stronger construction activity in the following nine to 12 months.

“This is more good news for the design and construction industry that continues to see improving business conditions,” says AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker.  “The factors that are preventing a more accelerated recovery are persistent caution from clients to move ahead with new projects, and a continued difficulty in accessing financing for projects that developers have decided to pursue.”

The index sector by breakdown is as follows: commercial / industrial, 55.1; multi-family residential, 53.3; institutional, 50.3; and mixed practice 46.3.