ASLA Quarterly Survey Shows Business Is Increasing for Landscape Architecture Firms

Business is picking up for landscape architecture firms, according to the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Business Quarterly survey for the third quarter of 2018. Based on the responses of 121 primary firm contacts, the survey indicates that billable hours and inquiries for new work have improved from the previous quarter. Hiring plans have remained steady.

A five-year comparison of survey results shows that numbers for the third quarter are well within range of previous trends. The survey is not intended to be statistically significant but instead provides a snapshot of the landscape architecture industry.

Some 84 percent of those surveyed indicated stable to significantly higher billable hours for the third quarter, an increase from the 80.2 percent reported for the second quarter. This value is within range of what had been reported for the third quarters of 2017 (85.7 percent), 2016 (78.4 percent), 2015 (83.4 percent) and 2014 (84.2 percent).

Similarly, 82.5 percent of those surveyed reported stable to significantly higher inquiries for new work, a modest increase over the 81.7 percent reported the previous quarter. This value is within range of what had been reported for the third quarters of 2017 (82.1 percent), 2016 (80.3 percent), 2015 (81.6 percent) and 2014 (83.9 percent).

Year to year, 79.8 percent of respondents indicated that billable hours were stable to significantly higher, a drop from the 84.2 percent reported for the third quarter of 2017. This value is still within range of what had been reported for 2016 (80.4 percent), 2015 (81.3 percent) and 2014 (82.4 percent).

Year to year, fully 81.4 percent of survey participants reported stable to significantly higher inquiries for new work, below what had been reported for the third quarter of 2017 (85.6 percent). It is on the low end of what had been reported for the third quarters of 2016 (82.0 percent), 2015 (84.5 percent) and 2014 (86.1 percent).

Some 52.7 percent of respondents from firms with two or more employees said they plan to hire during the fourth quarter of 2018, about the same as what had been reported for the second quarter of 2018 (53 percent). This value surpasses the percentages reported for the third quarters of 2017 (49.0 percent), 2016 (48.0 percent), 2015 (48.0 percent) and 2014 (48.1 percent). Fully 60 percent of respondents from firms with 50 to 99 employees said their offices planned on hiring experienced or entry-level landscape architects.

A question added to the survey asked respondents to indicate whether or not their firms’ recruiting and hiring practices seek to increase diversity. Some 56 percent of respondents from firms with two or more employees indicated they have an established diversity process or plan to establish such a process.

Key Survey Highlights

Compared to the second quarter 2018, your third quarter 2018 billable hours were (all firms):
Significantly higher (more than 10 percent) – 13.5 percent
Slightly higher (5 percent to 10 percent higher) – 29.4 percent
About the same (plus or minus 5 percent or less) – 41.2 percent
Slightly lower (between 5 percent and 10 percent lower) – 9.2 percent
Significantly lower (more than 10 percent) – 6.7 percent

Compared to the second quarter 2018, your third quarter 2018 inquiries for new work were (all firms):
Significantly higher (more than 10 percent) – 12.5 percent
Slightly higher (5 percent to 10 percent higher) – 35 percent
About the same (plus or minus 5 percent or less) – 35 percent
Slightly lower (between 5 percent and 10 percent lower) – 10.8 percent
Significantly lower (more than 10 percent) – 6.7 percent

Year to year, compared to the third quarter in 2017, your third quarter 2018 billable hours were (all firms):
Significantly higher (more than 10 percent) – 24.4 percent
Slightly higher (5 percent to 10 percent higher) – 31.1 percent
About the same (plus or minus 5 percent or less) – 24.4 percent
Slightly lower (between 5 percent and 10 percent lower) – 10.9 percent
Significantly lower (more than 10 percent) – 9.2 percent

Year to year, compared to the third quarter in 2017, your third quarter 2018 inquiries for new work were (all firms):
Significantly higher (more than 10 percent) – 21.2 percent
Slightly higher (5 percent to 10 percent higher) – 28.8 percent
About the same (plus or minus 5 percent or less) – 31.4 percent
Slightly lower (between 5 percent and 10 percent lower) – 11.9 percent
Significantly lower (more than 10 percent) – 6.8 percent

Do you plan on hiring any employees in the fourth quarter of 2018 (multiple answers filtered for firms with two or more employees)?
Yes, we’ll be hiring an experienced landscape architect – 22 percent
Yes, we’ll be hiring an entry level landscape architect – 20.9 percent
Yes, we’ll be hiring an intern – 8.8 percent
Yes, we’ll be hiring support staff – 6.6 percent
Yes, we’ll be hiring other design/architecture/engineering staff – 15.4 percent
Yes, we’ll be hiring other staff – 7.7 percent
No, we’re currently not hiring – 47.3 percent

Do your firm’s recruiting and hiring practices seek to increase workplace diversity 2018 (multiple answers filtered for firms with two or more employees)?
Yes, we have an established process – 46.2 percent
No, but we are planning to develop a process – 9.9 percent
No, we currently do not – 44 percent

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