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When Architects Work, Construction Follows

All Regions and Building Sectors Continue to See Positive Business Conditions In Latest ABI Report
April 30, 2013
This month's Architecture Billings Index (ABI) again showed continued growth in design work that is the precursor to hard construction activity toward the end of 2013 and into next year.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the March ABI score was 51.9 - down from a mark of 54.9 in February, but the latest indicator to show net growth in architects' workload. The new projects inquiry index was 60.1, down from the reading of 64.8 the previous month.

The report reflects a steady upturn in design activity, and construction activity nine to 12 months in the future.

While business conditions in the construction industry have generally been improving over the last several months, "the recovery has been uneven across the major construction sectors, so it’s not a big surprise that there was some easing in the pace of growth in March compared to previous months," said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker.

Among the regions, the Northeast led with an index of 54.6, followed by the Midwest (53.9), South (53.6) and West (51.9). Multifamily residential continued to lead all sectors at 56.9, followed by commercial / industrial (53.5), mixed practice (53.3) and institutional (50.6).

In select markets across the U.S. like New York, Houston and San Francisco, construction is starting to come back in full force. In New York, the modest upward trend in construction employment continued in the first quarter of 2013, according to a New York Building Congress analysis of state Department of Labor employment statistics.

Construction employment reached 111,333 in the first quarter of 2013, up 1.3% from the same period a year ago and 5.4% from the first quarter of 2011.

Construction industry employment generally is lowest in the first quarter of each year as companies reduce employees on payroll during the winter months.

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