WASHINGTON, DC-Like a frustrated dieter watching the scale godown, back up and then down again, so it goes with theAIAArchitecture Billings Index, a leading economicindicator for the design and construction industry. After adisappointing slump in October, the ABI has risen more than threepoints for November to reach its highest mark since December2007--a positive 52 (any score above 50 indicates an increase inbillings).

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The new projects inquiry index was 61.4, down slightly from amark of 61.7 in October. Other highlights from the reportinclude positive regional averages for the Northeast (51.1),Midwest (50.9) and the South (50.5), however, the West posted ascore of 48.7. As for sectors, multifamily residential came inat 54.3, commercial/industrial was 49.8, institutional was 49.3 andmixed-practice posted a score of 45.8. The project inquiries indexwas 61.4.

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AIA economist Kermit Baker is not calling a turnaround for thedesign industry, though. The index already raised--and then 30 dayslater dashed--the industry’s hopes when it moved into positiveterritory in September and then dropped again the following month.“This was a very encouraging jump for November but it is hard totell if it will be sustained,” he told GlobeSt.com. “This is a weakrecovery for both the economy and the construction industry. Untilwe see consist scores in the mid 50s for the index the recoverywill be modest at best.”

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