In a sign that construction activity will pick up later this year, an index of billings to architectural firms increased to 54.9 in January, with any score above 50 indicating an increase in activity. The index for the Midwest increased slightly to 54.7, according to the American Institute of Architects (AIA). "Conditions in the Midwest have consistently maintained an above average score in the billings index for the last several months," Jessica Reinert, executive director of AIA Iowa, said in a news release. "Still, architects in the Midwest continue to experience a mix of business conditions in the marketplace and are hesitant as the recovery continues to unfold."