Landscape Architecture Survey Finds First Sign of Economic Growth in Nearly 18 Months

Competition for projects increasing; some firms reporting work from stimulus bill


Washington, D.C., April 23, 2009 — Though landscape architecture firms continue to struggle, small signs of improvement could be on the horizon, according to the latest Business Quarterly survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). For the first time since 2007, the number of firms reporting average or above inquiries increased from one quarter to the next.

Overall, approximately one quarter (25.3 percent) of firms reported average or above inquiries in the first quarter of 2009, up from 21.5 percent last quarter. This represents the first quarter-to-quarter increase in inquiries since the survey first launched in November of 2007. However, firms reporting average or above hours continued to drop, moving from 31.2 percent last quarter to 25.2 percent currently. In addition, 11.2 percent of firms plan to hire in the upcoming quarter, down slightly from 12.8 percent last quarter. 

“We are seeing tremendous competition among firms over relatively few projects, especially in the public sector,” said Nancy Somerville, Executive Vice President and CEO of ASLA. “However, there appears some indication of improvement that may be driven in part by the recent stimulus bill.”

The survey asked firms about potential work from economic stimulus funds in their markets. Nearly six in ten (58.8 percent) of firms reported stimulus funds in their markets, and 7.8 percent of all firms received any project assignments as a result. In addition, 56.1 percent of firms believed that stimulus finds tied to green initiatives would result in additional work for landscape architects.

Compared to the fourth quarter of 2008, your first quarter 2009 billable hours were:
Well above average – 2.0%
Slightly above average – 9.9%
Right where they usually are, average – 13.3%
Slightly below average – 26.9%
Well below average – 45.2%

Compared to the fourth quarter of 2008, your first quarter 2009 inquiries were:
Well above average – 3.5%
Slightly above average – 9.3%
Right where they usually are, average – 12.5%
Slightly below average – 26.0%
Well below average – 48.8%

Compared to the same quarter a year ago, your first quarter 2009 billable hours were:
Higher – 7.7%
About the same – 13.7%
Lower – 77.3%
Don’t know – 1.2%

Compared to the same quarter a year ago, your first quarter 2009 inquiries were: 
Higher – 6.2%
About the same – 14.5%
Lower – 77.3%
Don’t know – 1.2%

Do you plan on hiring any employees in the second quarter 2009? (multiple answers):
Experienced landscape architect – 2.0%
Entry level landscape architect – 3.3%
Support staff – 1.8%
Intern – 4.5%
Other staff – 2.5%
Not hiring – 88.8%

Has your market received any stimulus funds and, if so, has your practice benefited?
My markets have not received any funds – 42.2%
My markets have received funds, but my practice, thus far, has not – 51.0%
My market has received funds and my practice has work as a result – 7.8%

Will stimulus dollars tied to green initiatives translate into more work for landscape architects?
Yes – 56.1%
No – 43.9%

From your personal vantage point, when do you foresee business conditions improving enough to spur growth in your practice?
It’s happening now – 5.0%
Second quarter 2009 – 4.0%
Third quarter 2009 – 17.8%
Fourth quarter 2009 – 17.8%
Not until 2010 – 45.4%
After 2010 – 10.0%

About the Survey
The ASLA Business Quarterly survey asks quarterly benchmarks on key statistics including billable hours, inquiries, and hiring plans. The Q1 2009 national survey was fielded April 8 through April 20 with 408 firms responding.


Karen T. Grajales
Manager, Public Relations 
tel: 1-202-216-2371