Architects participating in the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Work-On-the-Boards survey said their billings slowed down again in January as concerns over a slower economy appear finally to be affecting the nonresidential construction sector. Declines in billings were reported in nearly every region of the country, although the pace continued to pick up in the Northeast. Residential billings also seemed to stabilize in the West after a few months of decline.

According to an article posted on www.aia.org by Kermit Baker, AIA's chief economist, although the pace of growth for billings slowed somewhat in January, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) remained above 50 points with a score of 50.7 points, indicating that growth continues to be solid. Inquiries for new work, while rebounding a bit in January, also have been softer in recent months. The article said, “The January reading was the lowest in more than 18 months, and in all likelihood points to a continued softening in the nonresidential sector.”

“Businesses are expressing a growing uneasiness over the possibility of a national economic recession and, as such, are cutting back on their plans for expanding their facilities. Architectural firms specializing in the commercial/industrial sector have reported the steepest downturn over the past several months.”

While commercial/industrial firms have reported the sharpest downturn since the survey hit its recent high last July, institutional firms and those with a mixed practice have also reported fairly steep fall-offs.