I've been musing a bit on the state of the profession lately (I'm supposed to be working on final projects, so naturally, I'm thinking about something else).

I've heard anecdotal accounts of firms that went from 20 or 25 employees down to 2 or 3. I've heard of firms even closing up shop completely. I've heard people in the profession estimate unemployment among LAs anywhere from 15% to 35% (a few even as high as 50% but that seems like hyperbole to me). At any rate, it's bad.

So, I'm interested in finding out what the employment picture really is. ASLA doesn't track this, neither does the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At least, not in enough detail, nor often enough, to get a picture of how our profession is doing during this downturn. Does anyone have any suggestions of where to find good indicators of how bad a beating our profession is really taking?

Also, (given that there isn't likely going to be that much real data on this) I'm interested in 'cataloging' the downturn so to speak. I'd like to gather people's estimates of what has happened. To wit:
  • Of the LAs you know, how many lost their jobs after the economy went bad?
  • How many were practicing before the downturn, but are not right now?
  • How many of those who are practicing today are underemployed? Moderately or severely underemployed?
  • As for firms, what have you seen happen to them in the downturn?
  • How bad have the layoffs been in the firms that you know of?
  • Do you know of any that have closed their doors entirely?

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I just wanted to put in some two cents on my personal experience recently. I graduated in 08 and moved out to the Bay area with a job. Shortly thereafter, my company laid off all new employees and was hit dramatically by the recession. I have been working on and off freelance jobs and recently have relocated for a few months in Paris. I'm currently doing an internship at a young, innovative architecture firm. I was actually offered 2 internships from 2 interviews I went to, both at architecture firms. I want people to know that at least over here, design firms are busy doing projects in Morocco, Caribbean and the rest of Europe. I needed design experience and it's good working so closely with architects and learning to think about the design process a slightly different way. Whether or not this will help me get a job when I return to the States, we will have to see!
Not really the state of the profession, but here's a street-smart heads-up from a colleague: know the future venues of the Olympics, World Cup, Commonwealth Games (no comment on the present venue), World Expo, etc., and position yourself there....somehow...like, London is coming very soon...Brazil will be waiting in the wings...
Could be worse. You could've gone to LAW SCHOOL! See:http://www.slate.com/id/2272621/?gt1=38001
Apparently work for lawyers went of a cliff as well. Then you have those student loans and the common loathing of lawyers to deal with! Nobody has ever made jokes like "Q. What do you call 100 landscape architects at the bottom of the ocean? A. A good start!" Nobody has ever said "Ugh! Look at them! Designing PARKS! Creating humane environments! Healing the earth! Who do they think they are?!"
Man, Boilerplater, does that seem naive..Lawyers may be having the same trouble we are having with job availablity, but they make twice as much as we do and often work on the same issues,and their determinations are the final word - have you never worked for local government? It is the lawyer who will tell you how many parking spaces you have to have, if the developer whines..It is lawyers who work for the NRDC saving wildlife, protecting vast swaths of the environment - they don't hire landscape architects! If you have trouble finding a job as a lawyer - move to washington, D.C....the law degree, while costing NO MORE than a stupid MLA, will gain you tons more influence, respect, and MONEY...A law degree can be combined with anything, and suddenly you are the hands down expert.

I am surprised that you have not experienced that in your life..I have been an encscripted minion for many lawyers, in my life, as an LA, having to do their work, present to them, and let them rule..
TWICE the salary, easily, twice the respect (yes, the jokes are good, but it is the salaries that gain them the ultimate respect - no-one ever impressed anyone with their Certified LA status, but if you are a lawyer, you enter the upper classes...immediatley.)
What sort of lawyers do you know?
Yeah, the post was meant to be sorta simplistic for humor's sake. I have benfitted many times, both directly and indirectly, from the actions of lawyers. And no, I've never been arrested.
Its the lawyers who do most of the presentation for the planning board and fight to get the project approved, and they earn substantial rewards for it.

This trend needs to start up again. I wasn't a member the first time it came around. The last post was dated October, 2010. How does the profession look a year later? Any good news from the mainland? Is the recession over for LAs? If it is over are you preparing yourself for the next recession in 8 to 10 years? This profession is nothing but a roller coaster ride and I wish I had chosen another degree while in college. Although, I'm doing fine at the moment. The pacific ocean sometimes makes it difficult to keep up with current events.

I'm thinking and exploring the idea of opening up a franchise on Maui called "Wraps" but with a Hawaiian style twist.




Friends I know in academia and a planning dept. who were employed at the start of the recession have remained employed but my own former position (frozen after I retired, then later eliminated) still doesn't exist. Another person I keep up with who had a planning background (but who had moved into private consulting mixed with being a real estate broker, then found a part time job writing proposals for a transportation planning firm) ....is now is seeking something else and so far no luck. Independent LA's I know of are pretty quiet/not sharing. They may be skimming by on far less work than a few years ago, but I don't have enough of a sample group to conclude any broad trends.


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