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Firm leaders report 2009 job losses

WAYLAND, MASS. — Architecture and engineering (A/E) firm leaders reported that job losses in 2009 affected everybody — from highly qualified professionals to support staff — and in some cases the bleeding hasn’t stopped. According to the results of a survey The Zweig Letter conducted during the first week of January, some firms lost as much as 50 percent of their staffs in 2009, and some ultimately failed.

“We reduced our staff around 33 percent in 2009,” one respondent said. “We might make further cuts.”

According to the online survey of 43 A/E firm leaders, 72 percent of respondents said their firms lost both professional and support staff in 2009, and 35 percent said they are considering additional staff cuts.

“We had two layoffs in 2009 — our first ever! It only affected about 6 percent of our staff, but it could have and probably should have affected more. We remain on guard for 2010,” said Mike Ritchie, president and CEO of Photo Science, Inc., Lexington, Ky., a 185-person geospatial solutions firm.

ZwiegWhite reported that according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Monthly Labor Review report for November 2009, the A/E industry lost roughly 115,000 jobs between November 2008 and November 2009.

Seasonally adjusted report numbers show that 1.313 million people were employed by A/E services in November 2009, compared with 1.428 million in November 2008. At its peak in April 2008, employment in the industry was 1.451 million. The November 2009 number represents the lowest employment for the A/E industry since 2005.