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Unexpected drop in architects on the dole

The number of unemployed architects has fallen for the first time in 16 months – another signal the recession could have bottomed out

Last month 1,975 architects claimed unemployment benefit, representing a significant drop from the recorded peak of 2,055 in August. The fall also marks the end of almost a year and a half of month-on-month increases in unemployment which kicked-off in May 2008 and has continued to snowball in line with the recession. 

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) mean that 6 per cent of registered architects are now unemployed; the figure was closer to 7 per cent last month.

‘ [These statistics] fit in with the emerging picture from our Future Trends survey, namely that the workload situation has stabilised for architects albeit it at a much reduced level from 12 months ago - down by nearly a quarter,’ said Adrian Dobson, the RIBA’s director of practice (click here for Future Trends story) .

‘[However] Around 2000 unemployed architects is still a large number in relation to the overall size of the profession,’ added Dobson.

‘The unemployment figures do not of course reveal the significant under-employment of architects who are still practising, with 29% of respondents to our Future Trends survey reporting that they are currently personally under-employed’.

‘This seems like further evidence that the recession has bottomed-out in the architectural sector, but not yet a strong indication of a return to growth,’ added Dobson.

The news comes as industry tracker Glenigan posted figures showing that the number of schemes going on hold each had also dropped in recent months.

Phillip Veitch of  Bradford-based Waller & Partners said: ‘It certainly seems as though things have levelled off . I don’t think the profession in general is out of the woods just yet but those of us who saw it coming are getting ready to unbatten the hatches’.

Readers' comments (3)

  • Or it could just be people like me who have come to China there is no recession here...come on guys and gals...dont claim - GET ON THE PLANE!

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  • That's a 3.89% reduction in the number of architects registered as unemployed, then. I think you should be careful of your use of the word "significant" and the notion that the "recession could have bottomed out." Architects have traditionally not declared unemployment preferring to accept wage cuts, remain under-employed on reduced hours or, if made redundant, to set up in independent practice competing hopelessly for the same few jobs. It's gung-ho optimism such as yours and the RIBA's that gives a consistently erroneous impression of where the profession actually stands. Moreover, no-one in living memory has has experience of economic times like these and outcomes are not predictable. The question of national debt and its inevitable negative impact on public expenditure, taxation and interest rates has yet to be faced. This is an interregnum in which the political parties fence with wooden swords, a "phony war", before the winner of the next election has to wield the steel axe.

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  • Excellent post Roger. There is a definite wave of trying to talk ourselves into recovery happening at the moment - interesting how the FTSE has roofed it - obviously there's no recession at Goldman Sacs (thanks in part to Treasury lending). All the QE that the UK gov't has been pumping into the economy has to go somewhere, and given the sums involved, perhaps one would have expected a more pronounced turn-around. The reality is that the QE tap will have to be turned off sometime quite soon, interest rates will rise at lenders refuse to lend at such low rates, unemployment is far higher than 2.5m if you consider non-registered unemployed (as the first comment alluded to). Given the europhoria and money for nothing culture that existed between 1995 and 2005, the notion that this is over so quickly and painfully seems very wide of the mark.

    And as Roger said, its probably best that the AJ leaves the financial analysis to those with a better grasp of stats - the Lex column of the FT, say?

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