Demand for design services continued to improve for Midwest architects in August, marking a second- consecutive month of growth, according to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Architectural Billing Index (ABI).
After rising to 50.8 in July, the Midwest index rose climbed higher in August, to 52.8 months, reversing months of negative growth in the region earlier this year. According to AIA, any score above 50 denotes increasing demand for design work.
In addition to the Midwest, demand for design services acclerated nationwide, with AIA reporting an overall index score of 53.8, up from 52.7 in July.
Growth was also positive across all regions in August, with the West scoring 54.8, the Northeast 54.4 and South 51.9.
“As business conditions at architecture firms have improved 11 out of the past 12 months, it's fair to say that the design professions are in a recovery mode,” says AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. “This upturn signals an impending turnaround in nonresidential construction activity, but a key component to maintaining this momentum is the ability of businesses to obtain financing for real estate projects, and for a resolution to the federal government budget and debt ceiling impasse.”
By sector, mixed practice (60.1) showed the strongest growth in August, followed by commercial/industrial (54.8), multi-family residential (52.1) and institutional (50.8).
As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine- to 12-month lag time between architectural billings and construction spending.
In recent months, other economic indicators, including construction employment data, have suggested improving conditions for Midwest designers and builders. Much of the region has trailed other regions in the nation's economic recovery.