How resilient is the Architecture industry? Comparisons Between Previous Recessions

Many of the Architects that have been in the industry long enough can remember the Financial Crisis of 2008 and how it impacted the industry by keeping skilled architects away during the years after the crash. Many of those architects and designers ended up changing their specialization or even leaving the industry completely.

This time around, it has been interesting to see how architects and designers fare in this new environment defined by healthcare needs and social reconfiguration to fight the virus. In many ways, this environment has created a need for architects to redesign the world we live in with the health needs in mind.

If you consider the US unemployment rate for architects it is rising, and newer statistics are showing that it has ranged from 2.80% to 3.30% more recently. Another US Bureau of Labor Statistics statistic shows that employment in the architectural sector will grow around 1% over the next decade.

With the basic statistics out of the way, it is important to understand where the industry is going and how to insulate yourself from the volatile waves that define these recessionary periods. For example, BIM software and other new technologies have provided a disruptive force that allows for firms to expand the impact and workload for each architect at their firm, as well as help them to communicate more efficiently.

Architecture, being an industry tightly connected to many other parts of the economy, can be negatively impacted by lower growth in other industries. Workload directly influences onboarding of new architects and designers, so when projects start to slow down or industries decide not to revamp an old structure, firms lose out and their workers too. This means that having a sense of what your hiring needs will be as a firm can challenging to predict as the Construction industry and Hospitality industry can be volatile. More recently, we have seen how some material prices such as wood have been erratic and forced firms to focus on other options that are more affordable and in some cases more sustainable.

Another factor to consider for the future is how many architects will there be for the jobs available? AIA in 2019 posted data that showed that the median age of AIA members was 50 years, while the number of members over the age of 60 has risen 4% since 2012. For those younger generations looking to crack the higher positions, it showed that the group aged 20–39 has increased by 3.6 points, which means that you are growing at almost triple the rate of the architects aged 40-59 years old.

You should also consider the city or region you plan on working in, to insure that you are investing your time into growing at a firm in an area that is resilient. According to the AIA, firms in the Midwest and South have expanded more than any other part of the country. While firms in the West coast have stayed about the same.

If you look at the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures inflation in the prices of consumer goods, it has seen some of the most significant increases going back to the 2008 Great Recession. This is usually a good sign that Hospitality and Travel are going to grow steadily.

All of these factors must be considered when looking to insulate your career in architecture from such shocks that happen every so often and can be hard to predict.

When considering your next career move, plan proactively and create Portfolios that include your best work. Consider looking into finding a mentor with Architect-USand improving your Portfolios with our Portfolio Plans and Career Advice Program. We provide coaching and personalized mentorship, so you can have a professional and experienced take on your next steps in your career, as well as a great team to confide in.


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