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Green shoots? Workloads up and unemployment down

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Unemployed architects have fallen in number for the fifth consecutive month as RIBA research indicates workloads are on the up

There are now 800 architects claiming jobseekers allowance - a reduction of 60 architect dole claimants between April and May, according to the latest NOMIS government statistics.

The grand total is now the lowest it has been since November 2008 when 680 architects were claiming benefits. It also comes as overall unemployment in the UK dropped to 2.6 million.

The true depth of joblessness could however be greater with many architects either unable to sign on or temporarily working in other fields to support themselves.

In addition data from the latest RIBA Future Trends Survey also showed a 40 per cent rise in student unemployment since 2008 – suggesting the recession has been felt worse by those at the early stages of their careers.

However the survey’s staffing index – based on studios’ recruitment expectations – remained stable for May with a record low of 20 per cent of respondents claiming they were underemployed.

Portland Place’s data also indicated an encouraging, sustained increase in architects’ workloads since the start of this year.

Its Future Trends workload index – based on a measure of architects’ expectation of future work – was at + 13 comparing favourable to its + 2 position this time last year.

RIBA director of practice, Adrian Dobson said: ‘This month’s results may be an indication that public sector workloads are beginning to stabilise now that the initial cuts in public sector capital programmes have filtered through.

‘They may also reflect a growing belief that the Government is going to introduce some new fiscal stimulus, which could include additional expenditure on public sector construction.’

Large practices with 51 or more staff were most optimistic about future workloads while all UK regions were optimistic apart from Scotland, which was neutral, and Northern Ireland which returned a -14 workload index score.

Across sectors, housing improved by a single balance point to +16, the commercial sector dropped two points to +4, and the community sector forecast saw a two point rise to -7.

The public sector forecast saw a significant advance and now stands at -8, compared to -14 in April. 

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