Baker: There is still some anxiety
but an expansion is looking more

WASHINGTON, DC-The American Institute of Architects has been faked out, like many economy watchers were, by the stop-and-start nature of the economy recovery over the past three years. However, its latest Architecture Billings Index score suggests that those days may be in the past. The AIA reports that the October ABI score was 52.8, up from 51.6 in September. In short, the index, with its score of 52.8, has clearly moved into positive territory. Also, the new projects inquiry index was 59.4, compared to a mark of 57.3 the previous month.

“With three straight monthly gains–and the past two being quite strong–it’s beginning to look like demand for design services has turned the corner,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, in a prepared statement. “With 2012 winding down on an upnote, and with the national elections finally behind us, there is a general sense of optimism.” That said, Baker added, there is still a tremendous amount of anxiety and uncertainty in the marketplace, “which likely means that we’ll have a few more bumps before we enter a full-blown expansion.”

Regional activity varied, as it always does, in the October ABI. In the South, the score was 52.8. In the Northeast, 52.6. The Midwest clocked in at 50.8. By sector the index broke down as follows: multi-family residential, 59.6; mixed practice, 52.4; institutional 51.4; and commercial/industrial, 48.

Separately, the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index provided another indicator of growth this week. It reported that builder confidence in single-family homes posted a five-point increase in November to reach 46 out of a scale of 100.