ASLA Survey Finds Solid Economic Ground for Landscape Architecture Firms

Words: Bronzella Cleveland

Billable hours, hiring, and inquiries for new work all jump

According to the latest American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Business Quarterly survey, firm leaders reported significantly higher levels of billable hours, hiring, and inquiries for new work during the first quarter of 2015 – suggesting an industry-wide spring thaw has arrived.

In the survey, the majority of firms (82.02 percent) reported stable to significantly higher billable hours during the first quarter, a jump from the 74.67 percent from the previous quarter. Similarly, 85.34 percent reported stable to significantly higher inquiries for new work, a notable rise from 76.75 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Year to year, 80.52 percent of firms reported that billable hours were stable to significantly higher, a number virtually unchanged from the first quarter of 2014 (80.17 percent). Additionally, inquiries for new work (83.24 percent) dipped slightly from the first quarter of 2014 (84.64 percent).

The optimism felt by firms seems to be translating into future jobs, according to the survey. Of firms with two or more employees, 61.54 percent said they planned to hire during the second quarter of 2015, a notable rise from the previous quarter (50.63 percent). Some 55.26 percent of firms with 5-9 employees will be hiring landscape architects, both experienced and entry-level.

The survey also revisited questions from a third quarter 2010 Business Quarterly survey about why clients choose sustainable design techniques. The top reasons remained virtually unchanged. They include meeting government requirements (54.79 percent), saving money on utility or maintenance costs (40.96 percent), reducing environmental harm (39.36 percent), and adding marketing cachet (31.91 percent). In the 2010 survey, the top reasons were listed as meeting government requirements (50.4 percent), saving money on utility or maintenance costs (43.1 percent), adding marketing cachet (38.7 percent), and reducing environmental harm (38.1 percent).

Key survey highlights can be found at asla.org.

About the survey:
The 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 Q1 2015 national survey was fielded April 17 to April 30, 2015, with 191 primary firm contacts responding.

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