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U.S. demand for architecture services drops

October 19, 2011 02:34PM

Following the first positive score in four months in August, the Architecture Billings Index, a leading indicator of nationwide construction activity, took another tumble in September, according to the most recent data from the American Institute of Architects, released today.

AIA reported that the September ABI score was 46.9, following a score of 51.4 in August, reflecting a significant decrease in demand for design services. The new projects inquiry index was 54.3, down from a reading of 56.9 the previous month. In the Northeast, the regional average was 50.8.

“It appears that the positive conditions seen last month were more of an aberration [than a real improvement],” said Kermit Baker, AIA’s chief economist. “The economy is weak enough at present that design activity is bouncing around more than usual; one strong month can be followed by a weak one. The economy needs to be stronger to generate sustained growth in design activity.”

The ABI reflects the approximate nine- to 12-month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. — Katherine Clarke