The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has published the results from the March 2012 Architectural Billings Index Survey (ABI). The results show the fifth consecutive month of billings increases, although just barely.
The Northeast showed strong gains while the Midwest and South were mildly optimistic. The West remains at a desperate level. The ABI rounded out nearly dead even at 50.5 for the national average. (50 is considered to be dead even: no gains, no losses)
While any number above 50 is considered to be a gain, the Midwest is down from their high in February and the South is down from their high in December 2011. The Northeast has been on a steady rise since December 2011 when they crossed into positive territory. As for the West, they have been essentially negative and flat since September 2011.
As usual, the AIA does a disservice to the architectural community by spinning a rosy (glass half full) picture of the situation which is oftentimes divorced from reality.
Case and point is the commentary from Jennifer Riskus (I assume standing in for Kermit Baker) who highlights an increase of 1200 architectural jobs (from January to March) as if that is optimistic. It might be, if not for the fact that over 25,000 Architects have lost their job since 2008. The figures presented are also (intentionally?) misleading by indicating that the Architectural Sector grew to 153,200 jobs.
The 153k number presented actually represents all ancillary engineering & drafting positions related to architecture. Actual “Architectural” jobs are closer to 72,000. Even if we assume that those 1200 jobs quoted by Ms. Riskus are entirely “Architectural”, then I suppose that we are to be excited for an increase of 1.6%
Of course, that increase falls down to a measly 0.7% if we use Ms. Riskus’ “Sector” number of 153,200.
Not included in any of these numbers are the influx of new college graduates who will not even get the chance to be counted and likely would have negated the entire “new jobs” theory.
The reality of the situation is that the Architectural industry has shed over 25,000 jobs when compared to the 2008 high of 96,480 and salaries for those who do remain employed have been completely flat for the last 3 years.
Below are the Actual Employment Numbers for Architects, compiled from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) from 1999 – 2011. Unfortunately, we won’t know the numbers for 2012 until well after the next election.
Again, please note that these are the actual, physically counted numbers of real people who actually have real jobs – not extrapolated & fake data from “unemployment” figures. (Which is like trying to calculate how many employees you hired by counting the number of people you fired. It’s idiotic.)