Firms in northern England the most optimistic again, Future Trends index finds

Architects’ confidence about forthcoming workloads edged up last month with firms in the north the most optimistic again.

The latest RIBA Future Trends index recorded an overall score of +30 – up from the +29 recorded in April – with practices in northern England continuing to be the most confident about future workloads with a score of +48.

Large practices were by far the most optimistic with a score of +83, though small and medium-sized practices remained positive overall.

Private housing and commercial work continue to underpin firms’ workloads with housing posting a score of +29, down from the previous month’s +33. But commercial rose four points to end up at +15.

Confidence high in US

The US billings index hit its highest figure for nearly a year.

Buoyed by sold demand for new commercial and retail projects as well as housing schemes, the index shot up to 53.1. This was up sharply from April’s score of 50.6. Any score above 50 indicates an increase in design services.

The new projects index was also up, at 60.1.

Kermit Baker, chief econonist at the American Institute of Architects, said: “Demand levels are solid across the board for all project types at the moment. Of particular note, the recent surge in design activity for institutional projects could be a harbinger of a new round of growth in the broader construction industry in the months ahead.”