ASLA Survey Reveals Modest Gains for Landscape Architecture Firms

Billable hours and inquiries for new work rise; hiring plans weaken

Washington, D.C., July 20, 2016 – Landscape architecture firms experienced a mixed range of business conditions during the second quarter of 2016, according to the latest American Society of Landscape Architects’ Business Quarterly survey. Firms reported growth in billable hours and inquiries for new work, yet their plans to hire shrank from the previous quarter.

A comparison of survey results with second-quarter numbers from the last four years shows that business conditions remain generally stable as firms head into the third quarter of 2016.

The survey found that 82.67 percent reported stable to significantly higher billable hours, a notable jump from the 80.76 percent the previous quarter. This result is a drop from what had been reported for the second quarter of 2015 (86.67 percent), but within range of what had been reported during the second quarters of 2013 (82.8 percent) and 2014 (82.42 percent). It is also much higher than the 73.4 percent reported during the second quarter of 2012.

Some 81.03 percent stated that inquiries for new work were stable to significantly higher during the second quarter of 2016, a rise from the 80.43 percent the previous quarter. This result is a drop—but still within range—from what had been reported for the second quarters of 2013 (83.5 percent), 2014 (84.7 percent) and 2015 (84.51 percent). It is much higher than what had been reported for the first quarter of 2012 (71.2 percent). 

Year to year, some 78.61 percent of firms said that billable hours were stable to significantly higher. This result is a drop from the reported for the second quarter of 2015 (85.22 percent) and 2014 (81.32 percent). It is much higher than what had been reported for the second quarters of 2012 (69.3 percent), 2013 (60.8 percent).

Year to year, some 83.43 percent of respondents said that second quarter inquiries for new work were stable to significantly higher. This result is within the range of what had been reported for the second quarters of 2015 (84.91 percent) and 2014 (85.17 percent). It is much higher than what had been reported for the first quarters of 2012 (74.13 percent) and 2013 (63.5 percent).

The majority of firms with two or more employees (51.2 percent) say they plan to hire during the third quarter of 2016, a noticeable drop from the previous quarter (59.44 percent), but still far higher than what had been recorded for 2012 (22.3 percent) and 2013 (49 percent). It is about the same as what had been reported for the second quarter of 2014 (51.75 percent). Some 54.54 percent of firms with 10 to 49 employees say they will hire either an experienced landscape architect or an entry-level landscape architect.

The survey also asked respondents about their firms’ experiences with recruiting and hiring entry-level landscape architects.

The majority of respondents from firms with two or more employees (74.62 percent) said that they look for entry-level landscape architects with previous work experience and leadership roles in campus organizations. Some 54.62 percent of firms with two or more employees said they were not having a hard time finding qualified candidates for entry-level landscape architecture positions.

Only 31.45 percent of respondents from firms with two or more employees report that entry-level landscape architecture candidates already have the right skills in problem-solving, creativity and critical thinking. Slightly more than a third of firms (35.75 percent) indicated they believed landscape architecture students are graduating with the skills or background employers need.

Key Survey Highlights:

Compared to the first quarter 2016, your second quarter 2016 billable hours were (all firms):
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 12.72%
Slightly higher (5 to 10% higher) – 33.53%
About the same (plus or minus 5%) – 36.42%
Slightly lower (5 to 10% lower) – 10.40%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 6.94%

Compared to the first quarter 2016, your second quarter 2016 inquiries for new work were (all firms):
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 10.34%
Slightly higher (5 to 10% higher) – 35.63%
About the same (plus or minus 5%) – 35.06%
Slightly lower (5 to 10% lower) – 15.52%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 3.45%

Year to year, compared to the second quarter in 2015, your second quarter 2016 billable hours were (all firms):
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 15.61%
Slightly higher (5 to 10% higher) – 34.10%
About the same (plus or minus 5%) – 28.90%
Slightly lower (5 to 10% lower) – 15.61%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 5.78%

Year to year, compared to the second quarter in 2015, your second quarter 2016 inquiries for new work were (all firms):
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 16.00%
Slightly higher (5 to 10% higher) – 34.29%
About the same (plus or minus 5%) – 33.14%
Slightly lower (5 to 10% lower) – 10.29%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 6.29%

Do you plan on hiring any employees in the third quarter of 2016 (multiple answers filtered for firms with two or more employees)?
Yes, we’ll be hiring an experienced landscape architect – 16.80%
Yes, we’ll be hiring an entry-level landscape architect – 20.00%
Yes, we’ll be hiring an intern – 10.40%
Yes, we’ll be hiring support staff – 13.60%
Yes, we’ll be hiring other design/architecture/engineering staff – 10.40%
Yes, we’ll be hiring other staff – 12.00%
No, we’re not currently hiring – 48.80%

My firm looks for entry-level landscape architecture candidates with previous work experience (through internships or part-time jobs) and leadership roles in campus organizations (answers filtered for firms with two or more employees).
Yes – 74.62%
No – 22.31%
Not sure – 3.08%

My firm is having a hard time finding qualified candidates for entry-level landscape architecture positions (answers filtered for firms with two or more employees).
Yes – 33.08%
No – 54.62%
Not sure – 12.31%

My firm finds that entry-level landscape architecture candidates already have the right skills in problem-solving, creativity and critical thinking (answers filtered for firms with two or more employees).
Yes – 31.45%
No – 42.74%
Not sure – 25.81%

My firm believes that landscape architecture students are graduating with the skills or background employers need (answers filtered for firms with two or more employees).
Yes – 35.71%
No – 29.37%
Not sure – 34.92%

Note: This press release is here on ASLA's website.

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 2016 national survey was fielded July 1 to July 15, 2016, with 177 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.




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