Architectural billings hit their highest mark in more than two years in April, the result of three consecutive monthly gains, according to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Architectural Billings Index (ABI).
The April ABI rating of 48.4 was more than two points higher than in March (46.1) and nearly four points higher than February's 44.8 rating.
Although the score indicates a continuing decline in demand for architectural servicesa score above 50 indicates billings growthit is the highest score since January 2008. The rating is considered a 9 12-month leading indicator of construction spending.
"It appears that the design and construction industry may be nearing an actual recovery phase," said Kermit Baker, AIA chief economist. "The economic landscape is improving, although not across the board, but doing so at a gradual pace. It is quite possible that we will finally see positive business conditions in the foreseeable future."
The Northeast region already appears to have reached the recovery stage, turning in a rating of 51.0 in April. The Midwest stands at 49.2, with the South (46.5) and West (44.7) lagging.
On a brighter note, the project inquiries index reached 59.6 in April, indicating that the potential for new business is pushing ahead.