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WASHINGTON, DC-The American Institute of Architect’ latest Architecture Billings Index suggests are rebound may be underway. The Index rose almost six points in July, reaching 43.1, from 37.7 the previous month. A leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI is a measure of the approximate nine to 12 month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. Any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.

The index dropped unexpectedly by 5 points in June to the dismay of industry watchers, AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker tells GlobeSt.com. “We don’t know why but it looks like that was a one-month blip.” The current findings, he says, suggest the construction industry is the midst of a slow recovery.

The stimulus is indeed having an impact–albeit a small one, Baker also says. Three months ago AIA asked firms if they had received work due to the stimulus: 10% said they had, while another 15% said they had received inquires related to it. This month those numbers are 15% and 20%, respectively. “Firms that are getting projects, though, are saying it is a small share of their overall revenue–typically under 10%,” Baker says. “In this market, firms will take anything, but the stimulus is only a small source of relief in the face of much more serious weakness.”

Other highlights from the July Index: the South’s regional average was 43.4; the West 39.7; Northeast 37.8; Midwest, 36.9. Mixed practice sector received a score of 42.9; commercial / industrial, 42.9, multi-family residential, 40.7; institutional, 37.1. The project inquiries index was 50.3.

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