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US architecture growth split

A two-track design economy is emerging in the US

The South and West regions saw growth continue, with readings of 53.5 and 51.1 respectively on the Architecture Billings Index in January.

But the North-East and the Mid-West suffered further misery with scores of 43.6 and 46.5, where anything below 50 represents a fall in work from the previous month.

This means architecture workloads in a section of the country roughly from Kansas to New Jersey and up to the Canadian border is going backwards while the rest of the US is continuing to recover.

The North-East has seen three successive drops in billings, while the Mid-West has now seen two.

Across the US, the multi-family residential sector was the place to be working, with a reading of 51.8 on the American Institute of Architects’ index.

Commercial and industrial work was also healthy at 51.8, while mixed practice and institutional work fell, at 48.4 and 46.5 respectively.

Billings grew across the US as a whole in January – the first time this has happened in three months.

The index posted 50.4 and AIA chief economist Kermit Baker remained positive about the overall outlook for the country.

‘There is enough optimism in the marketplace that business conditions should return to steady growth as the year progresses,’ he said.

‘The suspension of the debt ceiling should ease some anxiety around projects for the federal government, at least for the time being.

‘However, private sector spending should lead the construction upturn this year, which will depend more on employment growth and continued improvement in the overall economy.’

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