News

ASLA Survey Uncovers Bright Spots for Landscape Architecture Firms

Billable hours rise, while inquiries for new work dip slightly

2017-07-25

General business conditions contained some bright spots for landscape architecture firms during the second quarter of 2017, according to the latest American Society of Landscape Architects’ Business Quarterly survey. Firms reported a jump in billable hours, although inquiries for new work dipped slightly. Plans to hire remained steady.

Firms continue to experience stability as they enter the third quarter of 2017, according to a multi-year comparison of survey results.

The survey found 85.1 percent of firms reported stable to significantly higher billable hours, a big jump from the 75.8 percent the previous quarter. This result is the strongest showing since the second quarter of 2015 (86.7 percent) and is stronger than the second quarters of 2013 (82.8 percent), 2014 (82.4 percent) and 2016 (82.7 percent).

Some 83.1 percent answered that inquiries for new work were stable to significantly higher during the second quarter of 2017, a dip from the previous quarter (85.4 percent). This result is still within range of what had been reported for the second quarters of 2013 (83.5 percent), 2014 (84.7 percent), 2015 (84.7 percent) and 2016 (81 percent).

The survey found that year to year, some 80.8 percent of firms said that billable hours were stable to significantly higher—higher than what had been reported for the second quarter of 2016 (78.6 percent) and a huge jump from the second quarter of 2013 (60.8 percent). It is within range of the year-to-year numbers reported for the second quarters of 2014 (81.3 percent) and 2015 (85.2 percent).

Year to year, 82.6 percent said that second quarter inquiries for new work were stable to significantly higher, close to what had been reported for the second quarter of 2016 (83.4 percent). It is a big jump from what had been reported for the second quarter of 2013 (63.5 percent) but a slight dip from the second quarters of 2014 (85.2 percent) and 2015 (84.9 percent).

The majority of firms with two or more employees (52.3 percent) say they plan to hire during the third quarter of 2017, about the same as the first quarter 2017 survey (52.6 percent). It is higher than what had been reported for second quarter surveys in 2013 (49 percent), 2014 (51.8 percent), 2015 (48.1 percent) and 2016 (51.2 percent).

Some 57.9 percent of firms with more than 100 employees also say they will hire either an experienced landscape architect or an entry-level landscape architect.

Key Survey Highlights:

Compared to the first quarter 2017, your second quarter 2017 billable hours were (all firms):
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 19.9%
Slightly higher (5% to 10% higher) – 34.2%
About the same (plus or minus 5% or less) – 31.1%
Slightly lower (between 5% and 10% lower) – 9.3%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) –5.6%

Compared to the first quarter 2017, your second quarter 2017 inquiries for new work were (all firms):
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 18.8%
Slightly higher (5% to 10% higher) – 31.3%
About the same (plus or minus 5% or less) – 33.1%
Slightly lower (between 5% and 10% lower) – 11.9%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 5.0%

Year to year, compared to the second quarter in 2016, your second quarter 2017 billable hours were (all firms):
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 21.1%
Slightly higher (5% to 10% higher) – 37.3%
About the same (plus or minus 5% or less) – 22.4%
Slightly lower (between 5% and 10% lower) – 9.3%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 9.9%

Year to year, compared to the second quarter in 2016, your second quarter 2017 inquiries for new work were (all firms):
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 21.1%
Slightly higher (5% to 10% higher) – 32.3%
About the same (plus or minus 5% or less) – 29.2%
Slightly lower (between 5% and 10% lower) – 12.4%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 5.0%

Do you plan on hiring any employees in the third quarter of 2017 (multiple answers filtered for firms with two or more employees)?
Yes, we’ll be hiring an experienced landscape architect – 20.8%
Yes, we’ll be hiring an entry-level landscape architect – 22.3%
Yes, we’ll be hiring an intern – 12.3%
Yes, we’ll be hiring support staff – 10.8%
Yes, we’ll be hiring other design/architecture/engineering staff – 13.9%
Yes, we’ll be hiring other staff – 6.2%
No, we’re not currently hiring – 47.7%

About the Survey
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Business Quarterly survey asks quarterly benchmarks on key statistics including billable hours, inquiries and hiring plans. The survey is not intended to be statistically significant but instead provides a snapshot of the landscape architecture industry. The Q2 2017 national survey was fielded July 6 to July 20, 2017, with 164 primary firm contacts responding.

About ASLA
Founded in 1899, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is the professional association for landscape architects in the United States, representing more than 15,000 members. The Society’s mission is to advance landscape architecture through advocacy, communication, education and fellowship. Sustainability has been part of ASLA’s mission since its founding and is an overarching value that informs all of the Society’s programs and operations. ASLA has been a leader in demonstrating the benefits of green infrastructure and resilient development practices through the creation of its own green roof, co-development of the SITES® Rating System, and the creation of publicly accessible sustainable design resources.

Contact

Karen T. Grajales
Manager, Public Relations 
tel: 1-202-216-2371
ktgrajales@asla.org
@ktgrajales

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