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8 Occupations With Increased Demand

It’s hard to tell if the recession is over, with the high unemployment rate. But there are strong signs of recovery in the online job market. Annual growth rate is up 21% overall since July, 2009, according to Monster’s Employment Index. Here are eight occupations in which employers are hiring – using online ads – at the fastest rate. (Learn more about the compound annual growth rate, in CAGR: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly.) …

1. Legal
2. Business and Financial Operations
3. Transportation and Material Moving
4. Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports and Media

5. Architecture and Engineering –
Increase: 23%
As our population grows, so does our need for buildings to live, work and shop in, which is why we need more architects. Although outsourcing of basic architectural design overseas hurts employment, American jobs in architecture and engineering are forecasted to grow by 16% over the next eight years. Think green, creative and innovative if this is your industry, and the jobs will follow. (Learn more about outsourcing, in The Globalization Debate.)

6. Production
7. Construction and Extraction
8. Healthcare Support

The Bottom Line
Online job postings have increased in almost every sector according to Monster’s Employment Index, with computer, education and office and administrative jobs also seeing double-digit percentage growth. So what does this mean for our economy? What’s important to note about Monster’s numbers is that mining, manufacturing and transportation and warehousing are the industries showing the largest growth – with mining seeing an impressive 53% gain since 2009. Any economic analyst will tell you this means an increase in production, a possible early indicator of economic recovery. Good news, even if you’re not looking for a job.

View all 8 ocupations via Financial Edge

architects, architecture jobs, construction, Engineering, Hiring trends, jobs, recession, unemployed architects | , | 3 Comments

Design Fees: Self-Inflicted Losses

Via ARCHITECT
By: Ernest Beck

The second installment of our series on architectural fees finds that increased competition for even the smallest of projects is leading firms to slash rates. But have things gone too far?

When a major New York financial institution asked three architecture firms to submit bids for a high-end office renovation last year, it was a relatively small project, but one that was eagerly sought by the bidders to keep revenue flowing in tough times. What transpired reflects the cutthroat nature of the industry these days: Two firms came in at around $175,000, while the third offered a bargain-basement price of $100,000, according to one of the participants, who asked to remain anonymous to protect client confidentiality.

Not surprisingly, the low bidder won, prompting an angry response from one of the other bidders. “If we went in at $160,000, it would have been low-balling—and dangerously low—but not impossible,” says this person, principal of a small New York design boutique that specializes in interior renovations. “But bidding $100,000 is impossible. … [T]hey won’t make any money.”

The recession has wreaked havoc on the architecture industry in many ways, from a rollback in projects to staff layoffs to declining revenue. One of the most devastating aftershocks, however, has been the practice of fee-cutting, as firms struggle to survive by meeting client demands to save money and tighten budgets.

While no exact numbers are available, architects say fee-cutting is widespread. Scott Kuehn, partner at Denver-based H+L Architecture, an 85-person firm that specializes in healthcare, education, science, and technology, had one long-term client ask for a 10 percent cut on all future work. This client, Kuehn says, “indicated that economic pressure and uncertainties … were driving similar requests to all business partners, suppliers, and vendors.”

For complete article click here.

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Instant View: July housing starts rise less than expected

NEW YORK | Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:06am EDT

(Reuters) – U.S. housing starts rose but to a much weaker rate than expected in July, while permits for future home construction fell to their lowest level in more than a year, according to a government report on Tuesday that pointed to a weak housing market.

U.S. producer prices rose in July for the first time in four months, pulled by higher prices for food and consumer goods, a U.S. government report showed on Tuesday.

KEY POINTS:

HOUSING STARTS: * The Commerce Department said housing starts rose 1.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 546,000 units. * June’s housing starts were revised to show an 8.7 percent fall, which was previously reported as a 5 percent drop. * Analysts polled by Reuters had expected housing starts to rise to 560,000 units. * Compared to July last year, groundbreaking activity was down 7 percent. * New building permits, which give a sense of future home construction, dropped 3.1 percent to a 565,000-unit pace last month, the lowest level since May 2009. * That followed a 1.6 percent rise in June and compared to analysts’ forecasts for a slip to 580,000 units.

PRODUCER PRICE INDEX: * The Labor Department said the seasonally adjusted index for prices paid at the farm and factory gate rose 0.2 percent, in line with Wall Street analyst expectations, after dipping 0.5 percent in June. * In the 12 months to July, producer prices increased 4.2 percent after rising 2.8 percent in May. * The year-on-year increase was also in line with forecasts.

COMMENTS:

JOHN CANALLY, INVESTMENT STRATEGIST, ECONOMIST, LPL FINANCIAL, BOSTON:

“The market’s looking for some inflation and we got some on both the core and overall (PPI), which should ease some deflation fears.

“But on the other side of the coin, we had the housing starts data which got a bounce from the prior month, which was expected, but the bounce was a little softer than we thought.

“We’re still getting data post-housing credit that is still weak and not indicative of a market that can sustain itself.

“That ties into a lot of other data recently that has the market worried about a double dip. We still think it’s slow growth rather than a double dip, but each week that passes you tend to get a little more concerned if you don’t get better activity indicators.”

CAMILLA SUTTON, CURRENCY STRATEGIST, SCOTIA CAPITAL, TORONTO:

“It’s a mixed set of data, with a disappointing reading on housing starts and building permits and a slightly stronger PPI report. Actually, at this point some signs of inflation would be soothing to markets amid fears of deflation. But ongoing problems with the housing markets are so great that it will likely offset any positive effect from an increase in prices.” “Forex markets are just taking a breather after the violent swings of last week in euro/dollar and dollar/yen. Traders are still looking for a catalyst to take the dollar in one direction or the other.”

MARK VITNER, SENIOR ECONOMIST, WELLS FARGO SECURITIES, CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA:

“This is more of a payback from the end of the tax credit. It is not that surprising given the NAHB numbers that were out yesterday which showed really abysmal buyer traffic and expectations for future sales are about as low as they were back before the tax credit was even passed.

 “We had the previous month’s number revised down a little, and we had a nice pop in multi-family, which people kind of forget about because it is so low right now, without that the drop would have been worse.”

BRIAN DOLAN, CHIEF CURRENCY STRATEGIST, FOREX.COM, BEDMINSTER, NEW JERSEY:

“Both these indicators are languishing. It’s nothing new to see the housing market stuck in a rut. On PPI, the core inflation is up a little more than expected year-over-year, which might cause some moderation in U.S. yields. That would help the dollar recover a bit against the yen. But the sentiment out there is there are still problems to come, and with the 10-year yield at 2.60 percent, there’s absolutely no reason for the dollar to rally against the yen right now. We expect another run at 85 yen and then a move to the 84.70-80 area.”

JIM BARRETT, SENIOR MARKET STRATEGIST, LIND-WALDOCK, CHICAGO:

“The slow growth will continue. It perfectly reflects the mood we are in with the under-utilization. We are barely moving forward.”

MARKET REACTION: STOCKS: U.S. stock index futures pare gains after housing, PPI data. BONDS: U.S. Treasury debt prices hold losses. DOLLAR: U.S. dollar remains lower versus euro.

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Nonresidential Construction to Grow by 3 Percent in 2011

AIA’s Consensus Construction Forecast predicts a 20 percent-plus decline in nonresidential construction spending through 2010.

According to the semi-annual Consensus Construction Forecast recently released by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the poor conditions created by a combination of surplus nonresidential facilities, low demand for space, declining commercial property values, and lack of available credit are laying the groundwork for drop of more than 20 percent in nonresidential construction spending this year, despite slight improvements in the overall economy.

However, conditions should begin to turn around by the middle of 2011, with an overall increase of 3.1 percent, notes AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, Ph.D., Hon. AIA. The hotel, amusement/recreation, and retail sectors will lead with 8.7 percent, 8.1 percent, and 7.6 percent growth, respectively. Healthcare facilities will follow closely with growth at 5.1 percent, but all other sectors—office buildings, industrial, education, religious, and public safety—will see far less positive improvements; only education is predicted to top 1 percent in growth in 2011.

To read the complete Consensus Construction Forecast and Baker’s analysis, click here.

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Report: Unemployment High Because People Keep Blowing Their Job Interviews

Another applicant blows it by describing his short-term goals as "getting this job."

 WASHINGTON—With unemployment at its highest level in decades, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a report Tuesday suggesting the crisis is primarily the result of millions of Americans just completely blowing their job interviews.

According to the findings, seven out of 10 Americans could have landed their dream job last month if they had known where they see themselves in five years, and the number of unemployed could be reduced from 14.6 million to 5 million if everyone simply greeted potential employers with firmer handshakes, maintained eye contact, and stopped fiddling with their hair and face so much.

“This economy will not recover until job candidates learn how to put their best foot forward,” said Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, warning that even a small increase in stuttering among applicants who are asked to describe their weaknesses could cause the entire labor market to collapse. “If we’re going to dig ourselves out of this mess, Americans need to stop wearing blue jeans to interviews, even if they’re nice blue jeans, and even if that particular office happens to have a relaxed dress code.”

“They also need to start bringing extra copies of their resumés, as it will show they are prepared and serious,” Solis added. “And, by the way, how hard is it to send a hand-written thank-you note afterward? Anyone can dash off an e-mail.”

A federal survey of employers found that nearly half of job-seeking Americans botched their interviews by responding no when asked, “So, do you have any questions for me?” Among candidates strongly qualified to perform the jobs they were applying for, 36 percent didn’t bring a notepad or pen to the interview, and 16 percent were thrown off guard when the interviewer broached topics un≠related to work, such as the weather, sports, or personal hobbies.

Twelve percent, employers said, did this kind of nervous throat-clearing thing.

“If applicants would just say yes when asked if they played softball or liked golf, we could add 350,000 jobs to the private sector,” Deputy Labor Secretary Seth Harris said. “The fact is, right now, today, approximately a third of the country’s manufacturing positions are vacant. Auto plants across the country, especially in Detroit, are sitting there just waiting for people to come in and build cars.”

“You may be a qualified candidate, but none of that matters if you walk into that interview lacking confidence,” he added. “Don’t act too confident, though. And don’t joke around too much. And don’t be overly friendly or ask too many questions. But be yourself.”

The Labor Department confirmed their statistics don’t take into account the estimated 20 million citizens who were unable to get interiews in the first place because of formatting errors in their resumés, or cover letters that slightly exceeded one page.

“At this point, hiring someone who doesn’t use bulleted lists, strong action verbs, or boldfaced keywords is completely out of the question,” said public relations executive Max Werner, who has been looking for office managers and a CFO since 2008. “And if you’re going to end your cover letter with ‘best wishes’ instead of ‘sincerely,’ I don’t care how experienced you are—you won’t be working for me.”

President Obama, who last week signed a law extending unemployment benefits, said the legislation would also address joblessness by creating a $1.2 billion program aimed at training Americans to use firm but approachable body language to make a great first impression.

“My administration remains fully committed to putting citizens back to work by making sure they show up at least 15 minutes early to their interview and never badmouth a previous boss,” said Obama, flanked by unemployed Americans during an address from the White House Rose Garden. “Our new ‘Nail the Interview, Score the Job’ initiative will help regular Americans like Paul and Tracy here remember that they should prep ahead of time by learning a few things about the company they want to work for.”

“And that little things,” he continued, “like making sure your socks match, matter.

Via The Onion

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‘Masterpieces’ on hold, waiting for better times

Hat tip to CNN Living

This article focusses on the job market as well.  Give it a read.

Aqua Building, Chicago, IL.

 

Some stunning buildings have appeared in American cities the past four years — buildings, like the Aqua skyscraper in Chicago, Illinois, that attest to the creativity of 21st-century architecture.

But there might be fewer of them in the near future, because the recession has forced many architects to tone down their ambition.

“A lot of projects have been delayed, a lot of projects have been scaled back, a lot of projects have been scrapped. … It’s not a time to see a lot of architectural masterpieces being created,” said Kermit Baker, chief economist of the American Institute of Architects.
 
Baker said the emphasis today is on value.

 “I think most buildings that are being built are very much focused on managing cost,” he said. “So you tend to see less creativity in that environment, less exciting designs, less upscale materials being used in them.”

 At Aqua, the curved terraces vary slightly from floor to floor, giving the 82-story tower a soft, billowy look — as though Chicago’s celebrated winds are ruffling its façade. It’s an award-winning structure that stands out for its innovative design by Studio Gang Architects. But its construction was well under way before the recession.

 Now “we are hearing that there’s more renovation work than construction work — kind of retrofitting existing buildings rather than building new ones,” Baker said.

It’s really difficult … for students coming out of school to find appropriate positions … we’re afraid that we’re going to lose a generation of architects.
–George Miller, president of the American Institute of Architects

It might not be the most stimulating work for innovative minds, but at least it’s work in what industry experts say has become an intensely competitive market. Where there were once two or three firms competing for a small project, now there are 20 or 30 as larger firms move in to take whatever jobs they can get.

The larger firms might “rather do a skyscraper, but if they can get a much smaller job they will, to keep the firm going and to keep people employed,” said Robert Campbell, a free-lance architecture critic for The Boston Globe. “And that drives people out of the field at the bottom who would otherwise have been getting those small jobs.”

Many firms have had to lay off employees to stay afloat. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employed architects have dropped from an average of 233,000 in the first quarter of 2008 to 217,000 in the first quarter of 2009 and 198,000 in the first quarter of 2010.

George Miller, the president of the AIA and a partner at world-renowned architecture firm Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, worries about the long-term effects this job shortage will have on the industry.

“It’s really difficult, of course in these last several years, for students coming out of school to find appropriate positions in the field,” he said. “That really concerns all of us because we’re afraid that we’re going to lose a generation of architects.

… There are going to be fewer of us around to do the work that really needs to be done in the future.”

What will be the architectural work of the future? Miller says it will likely be energy-efficient design and a renewed focus on infrastructure, especially in urban areas.

“We’re going to be considering not only the individual building solution, but also the way in which our buildings fit in neighborhoods and communities and regions,” he said. “We really have to have a plan now that considers the infrastructure of our communities. … I think if we’re smarter in terms of designing our urban centers, we’ll be more efficient in terms of the utilization of our natural and physical resources.”

Experts agree that architecture is a cyclical industry and that the market will eventually rebound. The question is when.

“It’s always been highs and lows, highs and lows,” said Campbell, who is also a registered architect. “I remember in 1975 I was working for a prominent firm in Harvard Square, and we dropped from 68 [employees] to 20. And that was the oil embargo, ’74, and that led to an extremely steep recession but a short one — not like this one that’s lasted so long.”

Some architects think recovery might be around the corner.

“We are seeing the private sector picking up,” said Thomas Fridstein, head of global architecture for AECOM, a provider of technical and management support services. “I feel like we’ve been through the worst, we’ve sort of hit the trough of the recession and things are on the upturn. We’ve had some major commercial clients contacting us about projects potentially starting up again, so that’s a very positive sign.”

It’s a positive sign for the nation, too, because busy architects are a bellwether of economic stability.

“If you don’t design it, you can’t build it,” Baker said. “So [architects] are really the first step in the process toward seeing a recovery.”

aia, architect, architects, architecture, buildings, construction, Hiring trends, jobs, new buildings, skyscraper, unemployed architects | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on ‘Masterpieces’ on hold, waiting for better times

Slump in Demand for U.S. Architects May Be Near End

Our company began to experienc a slight uptick in hiring during May to present.  This article by Prashant Gopal in Bloomberg Business seems to confirm what we are reporting:

May 19 (Bloomberg) — A leading indicator for U.S. commercial property construction showed signs of improvement in April, indicating a rebound in building may be near, the American Institute of Architects said.

The Architecture Billings Index climbed to 48.5 from 46.1 in March, the third straight monthly increase, the Washington- based group said today. While any score of less than 50 indicates a drop in demand from the previous month, April’s decline was the smallest since January 2008.

“It appears that the design and construction industry may be nearing an actual recovery phase,” Kermit Baker, the group’s chief economist, said in a statement. “The economic landscape is improving.”

The index is an indicator of future building of offices, warehouses, apartments and retail properties. There is typically a lag of about nine to 12 months between the time architects bill clients and when developers start spending on construction, according to the AIA.

Overall construction spending in the U.S. increased 0.2 percent in March, fueled by federal stimulus spending on power plants, hospitals and transportation projects, the Commerce Department said May 3. Private construction spending for non- residential projects fell 0.7 percent in March from the previous month and 26 percent from a year earlier.

Commercial Property Values

The Moody’s/REAL Commercial Property Price Index fell 0.5 percent from February, the second straight monthly decline, Moody’s said today in a report. Prices slid 25 percent from a year earlier and are down 42 percent from the peak reached in October 2007.

RNL, a Denver-based company that provides architectural work for mixed-use projects in the western U.S. and overseas, has added five employees over the past three months. It trimmed its workforce to about 150 from 250 during the past two years, said Richard von Luhrte, the firm’s president.

Foreign investors, public-private partnerships and landlords seeking to renovate distressed properties are driving von Luhrte’s business, he said in an interview.

“We’ve seen the bottom and we’re stable,” he said. “Obviously the last year has been challenging, but there are some opportunities out there.”

The Northeast was the strongest of the four regions measured by the American Institute of Architects index, registering 51 and showing growth in demand for commercial architects. It was followed by the Midwest at 49.2, the South at 46.5, and the West at 44.7.

The Architecture Billings Index is based on a survey of firms owned by AIA members. Participants are asked each month whether their billings increased, decreased or stayed the same.

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Architects, Congress and the “S Corp.” tax hike

Very good article in THE HILL by George H. Miller, FAIA – 06/07/10 10:03 AM ET

When Congress returns this week, one of the first items on its agenda will be finding a way to pay for extending unemployment benefits to the millions of Americans who find themselves jobless even as the economy begins a slow and fitful recovery. The Senate hopes to begin work on the “tax extenders package” that was approved by the House of Representatives on May 28, just as lawmakers left for the Memorial Day Recess.

We sympathize with Congress as it looks for ways to pay for extending jobless benefits. Indeed, roughly 25 percent of my professional colleagues are unemployed – in some states the percentage is even higher – and would benefit from any extension, as well as from other provisions in the legislation, such as Build America Bonds. And yet, as world markets tremble from global debt anxiety, Congress is rightly pre-occupied with finding ways to fund the extension without adding to the ballooning deficit.

Bad decisions usually result when two such countervailing forces are at work. None is worse than the effort to help fund the extension by raising taxes on individuals and small businesses that form S Corporations. So-called S Corporations help to create jobs and economic growth by reinvesting hard-earned capital back into their enterprises. S-Corporation owners often pay themselves a salary, to which Social Security and Medicare taxes apply. But profits that are paid to the owner as a shareholder are not subject to payroll taxes. They will be for many S corporations, however, if this short-sighted provision passes and is signed into law by the President.

This type of tax hike comes at a time when many people – out of necessity due to layoffs and restructurings throughout the economy – are forming their own home-based consultancies, web design firms, landscaping enterprises and the like. If they structure themselves as an S Corporation – and many of them do – they would be caught up in this new tax just as they are planning to set up shop, hire staffers and buy the equipment they need to get started.

That is certainly the case in the architecture profession. We are struggling to find ways to restructure and resuscitate our careers and livelihoods after the collapse of the real estate market. Many of us operate as S Corporations, because it allows us the flexibility to compete in world markets and retain and attract the talent that has kept American architecture the envy of the world. We may be forced to lay off staff or stop hiring new staff to pay the new tax – even though this provision is in a “jobs” bill. The provision is particularly troubling in that it specifically calls out S corporations with three or fewer key employees.

We applaud Congress’s effort to find a way to extend unemployment benefits for individuals who need them. But as the economy begins to recover, now is the worst time to raise taxes on a sector that is a catalyst for job growth in the design and construction industry. After 27 consecutive months of contracting, the American Institute of Architects in May reported that architectural billings have trended upward for the third consecutive month. That’s an indication that new construction could be on the rise in nine to 12 months, which would create more jobs and advance our nation’s economic recovery.

Rather than hike taxes, Congress should enact legislation that generates revenue with little or no cost to the Treasury. One such bill is H.R. 5249, the Capital Access for Main Street Act of 2010, introduced by Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Mike Coffman (R-CO). This legislation would change accounting rules for community banks with less than $10 billion in assets as they work with borrowers to renegotiate loan terms, avoid large sums of commercial foreclosures, and free up credit that can be used more constructively.

Unscrupulous businesses do use S corporation status to avoid paying their proper share of taxes and they should be caught and punished. But the Internal Revenue Service is already empowered to address that issue. This tax hike lumps together the good and the bad, penalizing thousands of honest small businesses that follow the rules. We strongly urge Congress not to support this inappropriate tax increase.

George H. Miller is president of the American Institute of Architects, based in Washington, D.C.

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Employers see recession as opportunity to raise talent levels

arrowAccording to StaffingIndustry.com, while many employers throughout the United States may be cutting back on overall staffing levels during the economic recession, companies also recognize this period of time as an opportunity to hire top-quality job candidates.  The challenge, recruiters say, is managing tighter recruiting budgets and picking out top job performers in a flood of increased resume submissions.  

Seventy-six percent of in-house corporate recruiters who participated in a Jobfox poll say the recession offers an opportunity to bring in higher quality talent to their organizations.  At the same time, 53% of in-house recruiters expect their companies to hire fewer new employees compared to the same period a year ago. 

“It’s the typical recession reaction whereby companies want to cut or freeze staffing levels, but not at the expense of losing good people or hiring top-flight contributors,” comments Jobfox CEO Rob McGovern.  “The companies that will emerge victorious will be the ones that are most resourceful in managing cost-efficient recruitment activities.”

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