A monthly index that tracks billing activity at architecture firms registered its 11th consecutive gain this month, the American Institute of Architects reported. The index rose to 53.8 in August from 52.7 in July. Any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings. "Design professions are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and entering into recovery mode," Jessica Reinert, AIA Iowa executive director, said in a news release. "However, key components to maintaining this momentum are both the ability of businesses and consumers to obtain financing for real estate projects and for a resolution to the federal budget and debt ceiling gridlock." Readings by region were 54.8 in the West, 54.4 in the Northeast, 52.8 in the Midwest and 51.9 in the South.