Every month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases an employment report detailing how the United States economy is doing, job-wise. The bureau breaks down the data into a few categories relevant to the architecture field, including construction, manufacturing, and a category called "architectural and engineering services," which ARCHITECT reports on each month. Last week, we looked back at the first complete set of 2014 numbers to get a sense of how these three sectors fared last year.
But the BLS also provides more specific data on architectural services, landscape architecture services, and engineering and drafting services. A closer look at this data shows that while the overall architecture and engineering sector may be showing signs of improving, not all industries are recovering from the Great Recession as readily as others.
Architectural ServicesFirst, a look at last year's numbers. To compare month-to-month changes, the seasonally adjusted numbers are the most helpful. For this more specific data for 2014, the BLS has thus far only released through November. Of the current data, May was strongest month of the year job growth in architectural services, when the industry added 2,200 jobs. The industry lost 600 jobs in August, the weakest month of the year.
Architectural services isn't yet up to the pre-Recession level of employment. According to the most recent annual averages, the last 10 years of non-seasonally adjusted data show that the industry employed 214,100 people in 2007 before beginning a descent to 152,900 employees by 2011. But it's back on the upswing. The industry employed an annual average of 157,200 people in 2013.
"I would think we would see another healthy year of employment gains in architecture firms," says Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, the chief economist for the American Institute of Architects. He estimates that the industry employed 163,300 people in 2014, which would mean that 6,100 jobs of the 10,400 jobs added since 2011 were added last year.
"It certainly does suggest that it is picking up momentum," Baker says. But, he qualifies, there is "still a long ways to go."
Landscape Architectural Services
Last year, landscape and architectural services added 500 jobs in both February and October, which were the industry's strongest months among the recorded data. In May, the industry lost 1,100 jobs.
While a larger industry like architecture may not feel these changes quite as much, landscape architecture only employed an annual average of 29,700 people in 2013. Over the last 10 years of data, the industry peaked in 2006, when it employed 45,100 people, and has been on a downward trajectory basically ever since. Despite a slight uptick in 2011, the industry employed the fewest people in 2013 than any time in the last 10 years.
Engineering and Drafting Services
Engineering and drafting services added 6,500 jobs in May of 2014, the strongest recorded month of the year for the industry. August was the worst, when it lost 1,800 jobs.
Of these three sectors, engineering and drafting services has recovered the most quickly from the recession. The industry employed 940,500 people in 2008, the most over the last 10 years of data. It dipped a bit after that, but not below pre-Recession employment. In 2013, engineering and drafting services only employed 17,000 less people than in 2008.
Charts: Maggie Goldstone;Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics