Modest growth in non-residential construction is likely to continue throughout 2007, according to the latest Architecture Billing Index (ABI), based on a monthly survey of "work on the boards" conducted by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Economics & Market Research Group.
The October rating was 51.1. Any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings. The index is considered a leading economic indicator of construction activity because there is an approximate nine to twelve month lag between architectural billings and construction spending, AIA says.
The positive outlook forecast by the index is a welcome contrast to recent housing construction data, which dropped to the lowest level in six years, according to U.S. Department of Commerce figures.
The October ABI showed some significant differences in regional results. While three regions were all in positive territory - Midwest 51.5, South 51.3 and West, 52.2 - the Northeast index of 47.1 indicated a billings decline.
Sector results were similarly mixed. The commercial/industrial sector led the index at 55.6, followed by the institutional sector at 52.3. The index for mixed construction stood at 49.4, with the residential construction index lagging at 42.5.