According to Kermit Baker, the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) chief economist, the fact that the monthly Architectural Billings Index (ABI) has remained in positive territory—any score above 50—for three months in a row is not the best part of the January report. “This recent showing is encouraging because it is being reflected across most regions of the country and across the major construction sectors,” he says in the release. More than half the firms in three of the four geographic regions exhibited growth in billings. Only the west showed slight decline with a score of 45.6.

The ABI survey collects data from architecture firms across the country on projects in an on-the-boards stage as a forecast for construction activity nine months to a year in the future. The consistency of ratings above 50, which indicates that firms are experiencing growth, should mean a steady number of construction jobs late this year and into 2013.

Another factor that’s encouraging economists and analysts to express a more hopeful attitude in regard to the home design and building industry is the New Residential Sales report from the U.S. Census Bureau and HUD. According to those figures, sales of new single-family houses in January were 3.5 percent higher than sales during the same time period last year. The report estimates that 321,000 new houses were sold in January and that there’s a 5.6-month supply of new homes on the market.