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    unemployment numbers, part deux....

    Gregory Walker
    Jan 6, '12 9:14 PM EST


    so, just to muddy the waters of the study put out by georgetown university yesterday, this evening the wall street journal's reports on the Department of Labor's annual average unemployment figures, released today as part of the overall jobs report (positive news on the whole. still could have been better).


    the findings? architecture had a BELOW average unemployment rate for 2011, with a 7.3% figure. 


    really. 7.3%. we're now officially a 'growth' industry again.


    you can find the wsj summary here and the full Labor report here.


    honestly, what's a boy to make of these two reports? one day we're being told that the world's imploding and the next we see an unemployment rate that's 6+% lower. there are a number of factors which could skew the lower figure (how many have given up, moved on, are underemployed, self employed, etc.). perhaps all we can glean is the obvious: our present rhymes with flux.


    what's really telling about the figures in the bls survey are the numbers of people employed: 181,000 architects (not including naval or software). this is actually UP from the reported 141,200 architects in 2008 and well ahead of the projected 164,000 architects by 2018. but, you have to take these numbers with a grain of salt because, by their own admission, they don't count self-employed architects who, in their estimation, make up 21% of the profession. 


    so. perhaps what this confirms is, in part, what most of us have experienced: yes, the world temporarily stopped in 2008. yes, there were a ton of casualties. yes, it's picking up again. but the real question is: how quickly and is it sustained growth or merely 'green shoots' that could get whacked by any number of factors (europe's still shaky; china's slowing, the upcoming elections here freeze new development until after november, etc.). 


    can someone get the aia on this? i mean, really? does anyone have a hotline to robert ivy?  why in the world can't they put their resources to use on this and settle the numbers once and for all?



    • So if the employment is up from 2008 by 40,000 (which does not sound believable, since just about every office I know of has shed about a third of its staff).  But billings are down...  hmmm.... do the Math.    What does that tell you about architects' income?

      concerning the statistic: I think BLS, as it often does, relies not on real numbers or experience/surveys from the field but on modeling the employment.  I am willing to be corrected on this.

      Jan 7, 12 4:17 pm  · 

      Thanks for these two posts, Gregory.

      I linked to them at my most recent blog post at Building Content and asked readers to join the discussion here.

      Jan 11, 12 1:57 am  · 

      thanks collier - i'm not sure this is really 'ground zero' for a real discussion on the subject, but it's one that - with the disparity between the two reports - is going to generate a lot of fodder. i've already had one person write me, offline, to say that the december numbers were 'cooked' to read as better than expected but that they'd be revised downwards in a month...

      Jan 11, 12 9:48 am  · 


      I echo your sentiment on the AIA. They are sitting on mounds of data and they have direct access to their membership. However, do the big firms really want to put the "real numbers" out there for people to know how truly dire it is?


      Perception is reality, they say, and I bet that was the goal of BLS' bogus numbers.

      Jan 11, 12 6:40 pm  · 

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Central to the blog is a long running interest in how we construct practices that enable and promote the kind of work we are all most interested in. From how firms are run, structured, and constructed, the main focus will be on exploring, expanding and demystifying how firms operate. I’ll be interviewing different practices – from startups to nationally recognized firms, bringing to print at least one a month. Our focus will be connecting Archinect readers with the business of practice.

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