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Landscape architecture industry remains on solid ground

A quarterly survey from the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) reveals no significant causes for concern as of the first quarter of 2017.
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Despite a few areas of decline—namely, billable hours and hiring plans—an American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Business Quarterly survey indicates general year-to-year stability, as well as an increase in new work inquiries.

The percentage of firms reporting stable to significantly higher billable hours this year was 75.84, down from the previous quarter’s rating of 77.12 percent. This score is also lower than most of the first-quarter results for the past four years, which rated as follows:

  • 80.76 percent in 2016;
  • 82.02 percent in 2015;
  • 72.2 percent in 2014; and
  • 76.1 percent in 2013.

Firms’ reports regarding year-to-year billable hours faced a slightly less noticeable decrease than regular billable hours, coming in at 76.27 percent. In previous years, this number stood at:

  • 75.66 percent in 2016;
  • 80.52 in 2015;
  • 76 in 2014; and
  • 76.1 in 2013.

In contrast, a substantial increase was displayed in the percentage of firms reporting stable to significantly higher inquiries for new work in the first quarter of the year. This number has increased to 85.39 percent from the 77.77 percent reported in the last quarter of 2016. It stands at a similar or higher rating compared to the first quarters of previous years, which scored:

  • 80.43 percent in 2016;
  • 85.34 percent in 2015;
  • 80.2 percent in 2014; and
  • 85.5 in 2013.

The year-to-year score for this category stands at 84.09, an increase from all previous years but 2014. Past years stood as follows:

  • 81.05 percent in 2016;
  • 83.24 in 2015;
  • 83.4 in 2014; and
  • 59.5 in 2013.

Potentially adding to this, 52.55 percent of firms with two or more employees reported they plan to hire during the second quarter of the year. However, this is a decrease from the 57.33 percent who claimed the same in the last quarter of 2016, and is lower than all previous years but 2014, which rated:

  • 59.44 percent in 2016;
  • 61.54 percent in 2015;
  • 49.4 percent in 2014; and
  • 54.5 in 2013.

Similarly, most firms with 10 to 49 employees—77.77 percent—stated they would hire an experienced or entry-level landscape architect in the coming quarter.

The survey also examined firms’ landscape architecture-related K–12 student outreach efforts, and found 52.81 percent of firms did not make such efforts. However, of the 44.94 percent that do, 97.47 percent have visited an elementary (46.75 percent), middle (40.26 percent), or high school (55.84 percent) to discuss the career.

This last section was added to acknowledge April’s standing as World Landscape Architecture Month.

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