After seeing its monthly Architectural Billings Index reach its highest level since August 2008 in October (46.1), the American Institute of Architects (AIA) this morning says the number slid to 42.8 for November, a trend AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker called "cause for concern" in a telephone interview.
"It looked like it was headed for 50, but the November number is lower than the March number, so clearly the message is this is going to be as labored recovery," Baker says. Any number over 50 shows an increase in billings from the previous month.
New project inquiries were flat in November, at 58.5, but Baker hasn't seen those numbers translate into much new work, he says. Regional totals were largely unchanged, as were sector figures for residential, commercial/industrial, and institutional projects.
"Folks are looking a bit wider for projects, but ultimately only one firm is going to get the project," Baker told me this week, adding he expects it to be "well into 2010, maybe closer to mid-year, before we see a real recovery in design activity."
So, what's your take? Are you concerned by the latest ABI numbers? What's your thought on the project inquiries number staying well above 50 for several months now?