ASLA Survey: Business Conditions Soften for Landscape Architecture Firms

Big picture reveals firms holding steady despite fourth-quarter setback; strong plans to hire

Washington, D.C., February 2, 2016—Landscape architecture firms experienced a fourth quarter dip in 2015, according to the latest American Society of Landscape Architects’ Business Quarterly survey. Still, a comparison of this survey with fourth-quarter survey results from the last four years shows that the landscape architecture industry is actually holding steady—with a majority of respondents, 83.94 percent, stating that business conditions for 2015 were doing as good or better than during the previous year, and plans to hire were the highest recorded for a fourth quarter survey in five years

The survey found that 74.47 percent reported stable to significantly higher billable hours, a drop from 83.40 percent the previous quarter. This result is similar to what had been reported during the fourth quarters of 2013 (75.7 percent) and 2014 (74.67 percent). It is higher than the fourth quarters of 2011 (62.6 percent) and 2012 (66.5 percent).

Some 71.73 percent said inquiries for new work were stable to significantly higher, another drop from 81.56 in the third quarter. However, it is a result similar to what had been reported during the fourth quarter of 2012 (74.2 percent), 2013 (74.4 percent) and 2014 (76.5 percent).

Year to year, 81.66 percent of firms indicated stable to significantly higher fourth-quarter billable hours, a slight decrease from the fourth quarter of 2014 (84.64 percent) but on par with the fourth quarter of 2013 (81.5 percent). Additionally, 81.21 percent said inquiries for new work were stable to significantly higher, a drop from the fourth quarter of 2014 (87.51 percent) but close to the 81.5 percent reported for the fourth quarter of 2013.

The majority of respondents (83.94 percent) described business conditions for 2015 as stable to significantly better than the previous year. This number is a drop from what had been reported during the fourth quarter of 2014 (87.51 percent) but much higher than 2013 (68.4 percent).

Some 51.42 percent of firms with two or more employees stated that they planned to hire during the first quarter of 2016, a jump from the previous quarter (48 percent), and the highest recorded for a fourth-quarter survey in five years. Some 47.23 percent of firms with 10 to 49 employees will be hiring landscape architects, both experienced and entry-level.

The survey also asked firms about student internships. Fully 62.96 percent of firms with two or more employees said they offer such internships. Some 81.40 percent of firms with two or more employees say they pay their interns.

Key Survey Highlights:

Compared to the third quarter 2015, your fourth quarter 2015 billable hours were:
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 11.70%
Slightly higher (5 to 10% higher) – 24.47%
About the same (plus or minus 5%) – 38.30%
Slightly lower (5 to 10% lower) – 15.60%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 9.93%

Compared to the third quarter 2015, your fourth quarter 2015 inquiries for new work were:
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 9.19%
Slightly higher (5 to 10% higher) – 24.73%
About the same (plus or minus 5%) – 37.81%
Slightly lower (5 to 10% lower) – 15.90%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 12.37%

Year to year, compared to the fourth quarter in 2014, your fourth quarter 2015 billable hours were:
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 30.58%
Slightly higher (5 to 10% higher) – 28.78%
About the same (plus or minus 5%) – 22.30%
Slightly lower (5 to 10% lower) – 10.79%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 7.55%

Year to year, compared to the fourth quarter in 2014, your fourth quarter 2015 inquiries for new work were:
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 21.63%
Slightly higher (5 to 10% higher) – 31.21%
About the same (plus or minus 5%) – 28.37%
Slightly lower (5 to 10% lower) – 9.22%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) –9.57%

How would you describe business results for 2015 compared to 2014?
Significantly better (more than 10%) – 34.29%
Slightly better (5 to 10% higher) – 31.79%
About the same (plus or minus 5%) – 17.86%
Slightly worse (5 to 10% lower) – 8.57%
Significantly worse (more than 10%) – 7.50%

Do you plan on hiring any employees in the first quarter of 2016 (multiple answers)?
Yes, we’ll be hiring an experienced landscape architect – 10.79%
Yes, we’ll be hiring an entry-level landscape architect – 19.50%
Yes, we’ll be hiring an intern – 13.69%
Yes, we’ll be hiring support staff – 8.30%
Yes, we’ll be hiring other design/architecture/engineering staff – 12.86%
Yes, we’ll be hiring other staff – 4.56%
No, we’re not currently hiring – 53.53%

We provide student internships.
Yes – 51.44%
No – 48.56%

We pay our interns.
Yes – 74.74%
No – 9.79%

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 Q4 2015 national survey was fielded January 7 to January 21, 2016, with 288 primary firm contacts responding.

About ASLA
Founded in 1899, the American Society of Landscape Architects is the national professional association for landscape architects, representing more than 15,000 members in 49 professional chapters and 72 student chapters. Members of the Society use "ASLA" after their names to denote membership and their commitment to the highest ethical standards of the profession. Landscape architects lead the stewardship, planning and design of our built and natural environments; the Society’s mission is to advance landscape architecture through advocacy, communication, education and fellowship.



Contact: 

Karen Grajales
American Society of Landscape Architects 
(202) 216-2371
Email Contact
@landarchitects




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