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Confidence drops as unemployment rises

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The number of practices predicting a drop in a workload rose to 23 per cent last month, according to the RIBA’s latest Future Trends survey

The results come as new figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal that unemployment among architects has risen for the third month in a row. In August there were 1,175 people seeking work as architects, up from 1,130 in July (see graph).

The institute’s monthly research shows that pessimism has also grown with the proportion of practices expecting an increase in more work dropping from 27 per cent in July to 25 per cent in August.

[There was] an overall drop in confidence levels this month

Adrian Dobson, RIBA director of practice explained: ‘Although the RIBA Future Trends Workload Index for August 2011 just remains in positive territory at +2, this represents a fall from +5 in July 2011. It indicates an overall drop in confidence levels this month about future workloads for the UK architects’ profession.

‘Practices based in London (balance figure +9) remain more optimistic about growth in workloads over the next quarter than those in the rest of the UK.  Practices in Scotland (balance figure -13) and Northern Ireland (balance figure -25) are least confident about future levels of work.’

Other figures from the RIBA Future Trends Survey for August 2011

The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index remains unchanged at -3 in August 2011, with 9% of practices expecting staff levels to drop (compared to 12% in July) and 6 per cent expecting an increase (compared to 9 per cent in July). 22 per cent of architects reported that they have personally been under-employed in August 2011, a 5 per cent drop from 27 per cent in July 2011.

The sector forecasts remain virtually unchanged this month: the private housing sector saw a 3% rise in the number of practices expecting work levels to grow (25% in August, compared to 22 per cent in July). Practices expecting workload to remain constant in this sector fell from 61 per cent in July to 57 per cent in July. The commercial sector forecast saw little overall change, falling marginally to -2 in August 2011 from -1 in July 2011. The number of practices expecting workload to increase grew from 15 per cent in July to 16 per cent in August; there was no change in the number of practices predicting less commercial work this month, which remained constant at 17 per cent. The outlook for the public sector workload remains the most pessimistic, with no further change to the balance figure of -23. In August, 29 per cent of practices expected a fall in workload, compared to 30 per cent in July; only 5 per cent expected an increase in workload, compared to 6 per cent in July.

The statistical analysis of the survey enables the RIBA to regularly report on two key confidence tracking indices relating to future workloads and staffing levels. For August 2011, the RIBA Future Trends Workload Index is +2 (compared to +5 in July), and the RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index again remains unchanged at -3 in August.


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