A Jan. 22 press release from the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) of Harvard University confirms what remodelers in most parts of the country already know: remodeling activity is continuing to erode.

According to the most recent Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA), the annual rate of homeowner improvement spending, which was 11.9% in the fourth quarter of 2008, will be 12.1% by the third quarter of 2009. The LIRA is released quarterly by the JCHS Remodeling Futures Program (the next release is April 16, 2009).

The annual rate of change, which began a sharp decline in the third quarter of 2006, had flattened as recently as the second quarter of 2008, but continuing economic uncertainty and tight credit threaten to extend any recovery. “While we may be nearing the bottom of the remodeling cycle, there is little to push spending back into a growth phase until the economy recovers,” Kermit Baker, director of the Remodeling Futures Program, said in the release.

The LIRA measures and projects only spending by U.S. homeowners on property improvements. Other components of the broader market, such as spending by homeowners on maintenance and repairs, and spending on rental and vacation property, are not included. The complete LIRA is available here.