Billings to architects slowed in October because of uncertainty about the U.S. economy, thanks in large part to the partial shutdown of the federal government, Jessica Reinert, executive director of the Iowa chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Iowa), said in a release. Following three months of accelerating demand for design services, the national organization's billings index dropped to 51.6 from 54.3 in September. Any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the billings index reflects the approximate nine- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. "With the uncertainty of the overall U.S. economic outlook, projects and progress on new buildings are slow and timid," Reinert said. Architects in the Midwest report a slight increase in billings from September, and inquiries about new projects increased to 61.5 from 58.6. Reinert also pointed out that Greater Des Moines architects are poised to benefit from an anticipated flurry of projects slated for next year in downtown Des Moines. "I'm really excited about that," she said. Click here for a related article at BusinessRecord.com. To read about three community leaders' views on development activity downtown at BusinessRecord.com, click here.