Good news from the economic front

We’re finally seeing some consistent economic movement in the positive direction. The American Institute of Architects, Washington, reported that their Architecture Billings Index has improved for the third straight month. The April rating was 48.5, a 2.4-point gain from the 46.1 March index. The April number represents the highest score since January 2008. Even more encouraging is that the new projects inquiry index is now firmly on the growth side at 59.6.
   “It appears that the design and construction industry may be nearing an actual recovery phase,” said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “The economic landscape is improving, although not across the board, but doing so at a gradual pace. It is quite possible that we will finally see positive business conditions in the foreseeable future.”
   The regional indices show growth in the Northeast (51.0), almost break-even in the Midwest (49.2), the South (46.5) below the national index, and the West (44.7) still struggling. The sector index breakdown shows: commercial/industrial (48.5), mixed practice (48.4), institutional (46.8), and multi-family residential (45.8).
   This is truly good news, made more so because a pattern of improvement is clearly in place. It’s not going to be a rapid recovery, but positive movement is a welcome relief.—Gary L. Parr