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US architects' workloads on the up

US architects in all regions except the Midwest have seen workloads bounce back from a dip in April

The American Institute of Architects’ closely watched Architecture Billings Index recorded a score of 52.9 in May, where anything above 50 represents a rise from the previous month.

May’s score was particularly welcome after a reading of 48.6 in April ended an eight-month surge in workloads across the Atlantic, leading to fears of another prolonged downturn.

Practices in the Northeast led the way in May, with an index reading of 53.7 showing strong growth in workloads. The West posted 52.1 and the South 50.9.

But architects in the Midwest suffered a second consecutive month of falling work, with a reading of 47.5 in May following one of 49.4 in April.

The multi-family residential sector was the fastest growing sector in May, reading 52.8 on the index, while institutional work was close behind at 52.2.

Mixed practice work was up at 51.0 but commercial and industrial work fell significantly, with a reading of 47.5.

AIA chief economist Kermit Baker said the overall increase in architecture work across the US put April’s dip into context.

‘This rebound is a good sign for the design and construction industry and hopefully means that April’s negative dip was a blip rather than a sign of challenging times to come,’ he said.

But he warned: ‘There is a resounding sense of uncertainty in the marketplace that is continuing to act as a governor on the business development engine for architecture firms.’

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