The Midwest index rose from 48.3 to 50.8 in July, sufficient to move the region into positive territory, given any score above 50 denotes increased demand for design work. Prior to July, the last time the Midwest billings showed positive growth was in March.
By comparison, the Northeast index declined from 55.6 to 54.3 in July, while the South's index dropped from 54.8 to 54.2. The West essentially remained even at 51.1. It's worth noting that all three regions have shown positive growth the entire year.
Poor economies continue to dog some parts of the Midwest, circumstances that are prompting states like Illinois to dump billions into construction programs, despite a nationwide swing away from public spending. For now, construction employment is on the rise in the region, but time will tell whether the nascent recovery is sustainable.
Meantime, the nation's Billing Index rose 51.6 to 52.7 in July, according to AIA. "There continues to be encouraging signs that the design and construction industry continues to improve," said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker. “But we also hear a wide mix of business conditions all over the country, ranging from outstanding and booming to slowly improving to flat.”