In the first quarter of this year, landscape architecture firms continued building on the modestly improving economic conditions of the past couple of years, according to the latest American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) “Business Quarterly” survey.
Firms responding to the survey indicated both higher billings and more inquiries for new work in the first quarter of this year. However, their hiring plans dropped slightly compared with the fourth quarter of 2015.
The survey found that 80.76 percent reported stable to significantly higher billable hours, up from 74.47 percent in the previous quarter. While the most recent number was lower than the comparable figure for the first quarter of 2015 (82.02 percent), it was higher than the first quarters of 2012 (71.3 percent), 2013 (76.1 percent) and 2014 (72.2 percent).
Some 80.43 percent of firms responding to the first-quarter 2016 survey stated that inquiries for new work were stable to significantly higher – much stronger than the 71.73 percent recorded in the fourth quarter of last year. Even so, the most recent feedback on inquiries for new work was down compared with the first quarters of 2013 (85.5 percent) and 2015 (85.34 percent). It was about the same as the 2014 figure and, not surprisingly, much higher than the 2012 number (76.2 percent).
The majority of landscape architecture firms with two or more employees (59.44 percent) say they plan to hire during the second quarter of 2016, a slight drop from the previous quarter (61.54 percent) but still higher than comparable figures for 2012 (28.2 percent), 2013 (54.5 percent) and 2014 (49.4 percent).
Meanwhile, some 54.84 percent of firms with 10 to 49 employees say they will hire either an experienced landscape architect or an entry-level landscape architect.
ASLA’s survey also asked respondents about their firms’ strategies with respect to gender diversity. The survey indicated 53.57 percent of firms with two or more employees say gender diversity is an important issue for them.
Firms with two or more employees say they have undertaken the following measures to promote gender diversity: provide flexible working conditions and/or locations (67.83 percent), equal pay for equal work (65.73 percent), and family-friendly programs or policies (56.64 percent).
Some 80.99 percent of firms with two or more employees say they include women on senior leadership teams.
The American Society of Landscape Architects survey tracks quarterly benchmarks on key statistics such as billable hours, inquiries and hiring plans. The most recent survey was conducted April 8-22, with 191 firms responding.