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UK archaeology forecast shows mixed outlook

Landward Research Ltd recently completed a report on the State of the Archaeological Market in the UK. There is both good news and bad news for the state of professional archaeology. Job losses have stabilized since the the recession but they are still down 800 positions (5,900) from pre-crash levels (6,700), though these numbers do not take into account the potential growth in jobs had the recession not occurred. Looking at the Profiling the Profession reports (provided at the Landward Website) between 2002-03 and 2007-08, employment increased by 20 percent. Had that trend continued, there would currently be around 8000 archaeology jobs in the UK. This puts the actual losses at closer to 2,000 jobs. This larger number probably explains the tough competition among recent graduates and veterans for jobs, there are five years of students who have not been able to obtain jobs except from positions created by the retirement of archaeologists.

When asked if the employment situation will improve, the report shows that the opinions expressed by commercial companies and other organizations are split.

A little bit of good news is that the average annual turnover by commercial companies has recovered and is at its highest level in several years. If this trend continues, the job market is likely to improve somewhat this year. An upcoming jobs survey later in this year might be able to answer this question.

Year                  Responses      Mean
2008-09          22                     £1.276m
2009-10          23                     £1.108m -13%
2010-11           23                     £1.189m +7%
Apr – Sep 11    18                     £1.236m +3% (annual estimated from bi-annual results)

These numbers were taken before the most recent wobble in the Euro zone and it does appear that the UK economy, while not in a recession, has suffered some what. It is to early to tell if recent Euro-zone events will hurt the slight increase in the business outlook for archaeologists.

(Disclosure:  while Doug Rocks-Macqueen conducts research for Landward Research, he did not work on this report or the project associated with it.)

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