So much for whatever was left of the cautious optimism many were feeling in the architecture and construction industries following a string of positive signs coming from the American Institute of Architects‘ monthly Architecture Billings Index. The last few months had seen a series of tumbles in the Index, after it peaked back in January with pre-2008, industry meltdown levels. Now it’s dipped even further, down to 47.2 from 47.6 the month before (anything below 50 indicates fewer billings and, in general, less demand). What’s more, it’s made the AIA’s always somber keeper of the numbers downright gloomy:

“Whatever positive momentum that there had been seen in late 2010 and earlier this year has disappeared,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “The broader economy looks to be entering another soft spot, and certainly state budget constraints are adversely affecting the profession’s ability to work on institutional projects. But there is no denying that the prolonged credit freeze from lenders for financing commercial projects is the number one challenge to a recovery for the design and construction industry.”