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Demand for design services in West rises for 3rd straight month

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The Architecture Billings Index dipped slightly in the West, but demand for design services is still increasing, according to the latest report by the American Institute of Architects released on Wednesday.

The West showed a score of 51.8 in October, down from the 52.1 mark in both August and September, but with scores above 50, the West region is still showing increased billings.

The West is in a three-month stretch in which demand for architectural services is rising.

The last time the West saw any kind of growth in billings was in August 2007, before the recession hit, where as only once from February 2005 through August 2007 did billings not go up. The recession started in December 2007.

The index reflects the approximate nine- to 12-month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending.

In the other three regions of the country, all showed scores above 50 and billings increasing.

Last month, the South posted the highest score at 52.8, followed by the Northeast at 52.6, and the Midwest with a mark of 50.8.

This is the first since July 2007 that all four regions had demand for design services rising.

Across the United States, the Architecture Billings Index score was 52.8 last month, up from 51.6 in September and 50.2 in August. The national Architecture Billings Index hasn’t had a score above 52.8 since December 2010.

“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 Kermit Baker, chief economist for the American Institute of Architects.

He added that even though the year looks to be ending on an upswing and there is a sense of optimism, he cautions that 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.”

The sector index breakdown for October went as follows: multifamily residential 59.6; mixed practice 52.4; institutional 51.4; and commercial and industrial 48.0.

The last time multifamily residential had a score higher than last month’s mark was in April 2005. This is also the sixth month in a row that the multifamily residential market has led the four areas the Architecture Billings Index tracks.

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