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Green shoots? Unemployment and number of stalled projects both fall

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The number of unemployed architects has fallen again, coinciding with another drop in the amount of mothballed projects

According to the official figures for November, the number of architects out of work dipped from 1,220 in October to 1,170 in November having started 2010 at more than 1,430.

Meanwhile industry tracker Glenigan has revealed that another 20 projects with a value of more than £100 million were taken off ‘hold’ during November. The total of stalled schemes across all sectors now stands at 268 - down from 332 in September.

Glenigan economist James Abraham said: ‘Every sector saw a fall in projects being placed on hold. In keeping with the optimism the sector has seen in project starts, retail saw the underlying value of shelved projects fall by 83 per cent [compared with the same period last year].

‘Additionally, every region of the UK saw a fall in the value of projects being placed on hold; Wales and the Southwest of England saw the largest fall in the underlying value of shelved projects.

He added: ‘The underlying value of projects which were cancelled, having been on hold, fell by 77 per cent over the three months to November. The only sector which experienced an increase in cancellations was industrial, mainly due to the abandonment of a £50 million project in Stoke-on-Trent. However, Glenigan see’s the industrial sector as one that is set to increase its activity next year, so this spike in cancellations will not last.’

Speaking last month Christian Wewer, director of AEW Architects, said there was ‘a whiff of optimism in the private and commercial sector which will drag the industry forward.’

In addition the latest results of the RIBA’s Future Trends Survey revealed that practices in London were expecting their workloads to increase over the next three months, supported by increased activity within the commercial sector, and growth in high end residential work.

Practices based in Scotland and Northern Ireland continue to exhibit low levels of confidence

However, the RIBA Future Trends Workload Index has fallen, showing that practices elsewhere across the country continue to exhibit low levels of confidence about their future work

Adrian Dobson, RIBA Director of Practice said: ‘[Our] Workload Index has fallen back to a level of -15.  Small and medium size practices remain more optimistic about their overall workload prospects in the next quarter than larger practices.

‘In terms of geographical analysis, practices based in Scotland and Northern Ireland continue to exhibit low levels of confidence about future work and future staffing levels. Practices in London expect their workloads to increase over the coming three months and to employ more staff overall during the next quarter, providing a further indication that it is the capital that is beginning to see the first signs of a possible recovery in overall work levels.’  

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