For the past five months things were looking up for the Architecture Billings Index. Until now. Granted, the index was merely teetering on the positive side of the spectrum at 50.4 for March (any score above 50 reflects an increase), so it didn’t have far to drop into the negative territory of 48.4 for April. Despite the five-month positive stint, throughout the period AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker urged cautious optimism in what has clearly been a tepid recovery. In a statement released today, he said that the decline in demand for design services is not surprising considering continued volatility in the overall economy. “Favorable conditions during the winter months may have accelerated design billings, producing a pause in projects that have moved ahead faster than expected,” he said.
The regional breakdown took the Northeast to the top of the heap with a score of 51.0, down from last months 53.9. Likewise, the Midwest stayed positive at 50.1, but not quite as strong as the previous month’s 54.1. The South dropped into negative territory at 49.0, down from a positive stance at 50.1. Meanwhile, the ever-sluggish West stayed negative at 48.0, not a much of a shift from last month’s 46.6.
In the sector breakdown, the commercial/industrial sector, as usual, took the lead with a positive showing of 53.8, a shift from March’s 56.0. Multi-family residential hovered around the edge at 50.5, not far from last month’s 51.9. Institutional stayed negative at 46.6, a slight change from 47.6. Mixed practice also remained low at 45.0, down from 47.2. The new projects inquiry index checked in at 54.4, down from a mark of 56.6 in March.
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