Business climate softens for landscape architecture firms

Updated Feb 8, 2016

Landscape architecture firms’ business performance dipped in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to the latest American Society of Landscape Architects quarterly survey.

However, when compared with fourth-quarter results in each of the previous four years, the latest survey shows the landscape architecture industry is actually holding steady. In fact, a hefty majority of respondents, 83.94 percent, said business conditions in 2015 were as good or better than the previous year. Moreover, hiring plans at the firms were the highest recorded for a fourth-quarter survey in five years.

ASLA_4line_PMS576_wTag copy 2The fourth-quarter 2015 survey found that 74.47 percent of firms 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).

A little over 70 percent of the firms responding to the fourth-quarter 2015 survey said inquiries they had received about new work were stable to significantly higher. That’s down about 10 percent from the third quarter of last year.

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).

Best of all perhaps, approximately 84 percent of the landscape architecture firms responding described business conditions in 2015 as stable to significantly better than the previous year. While that number was lower than what had been reported during the fourth quarter of 2014 (87.51 percent), it was much higher than 2013 (68.4 percent).

Some 51.42 percent of firms with two or more employees said 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.

Among firms with 10 to 49 employees, 47.23 percent indicated they would be hiring landscape architects, both experienced and entry-level.

ASLA, the national professional association for landscape architects, represents more than 15,000 members in 49 professional chapters and 72 student chapters.

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