The recession has had a profound impact on employment in many sectors of America's economy, but perhaps none has suffered more than those connected to real estate and development. The construction sector, for instance, continues to have the highest level of unemployment according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
New data out from the AIA details just how bad the past four years have been for architecture firms and employees. According to the 2012 AIA Firm Survey, "Total construction spending levels, which exceeded $1 trillion in 2008,
fell to under $800 billion in 2011. As a result, gross revenue at
architecture firms declined from more than $44 billion in 2008 to $26
billion by 2011, a 40 percent decline over this three-year period."
Naturally, as revenues fell, firms were forced to cut their staffs dramatically. And although the recession officially ended in mid-2009, the lost jobs have not returned. "Construction payrolls peaked in early 2007 and steadily declined through mid-2011 due to the housing downturn. Since then, there has been very little recovery," says the report. "Between 2007 and 2011, more than 28 percent of positions at architecture firms disappeared, more than erasing the 18 percent increase in architecture positions seen during the 2003–2007 upturn."
Looking for a silver lining amidst the bad news? With more time available for professional development, "The number of LEED APs on staff nearly doubled in the last three years."