Business conditions were a mixed bag for landscape architecture firms during the second quarter of this year, according to the American Society of Landscape Architects’ “Business Quarterly” survey.
Companies reported moderate growth in billable hours and inquires for new work, but fewer plan to hire in the third quarter compared with the previous quarter.
ASLA’s survey showed 82.67 percent of respondents reported stable to significantly higher billable hours compared with the previous three-month period, up modestly from the first quarter figure of 80.76 percent but lower than 2015’s second quarter (86.67 percent).
Inquiries for new work also grew from 80.43 percent first quarter of 2016 to 81.03 percent in the second. That’s down from the second quarters in 2013 (83.5 percent), 2014 (84.7 percent) and 2015 (84.51).
Looking at year-over-year comparisons, ASLA reports that 78.61 percent of survey respondents said billable hours were stable to significantly higher in the second quarter of this year vs. a year earlier, dropping from 2015’s 85.22 percent. This year’s second quarter is still much higher than 2012 (69.3 percent) and 2013 (60.8 percent).
New work inquires stayed relatively stable year-over-year at 83.43 percent. The comparable number for 2015 was 84.91 percent, while the year-over-year comparison in 2014’s second-quarter survey came in at 85.17 percent.
Meanwhile, 51.2 percent of firms with two or more employees said they intend to hire new employees in the third quarter, while 54.54 percent of landscape architecture firms with 10 to 49 say they plan to hire either an entry-level landscape architect or an experienced landscape architect.
While the majority of responding firms with two or more employees reported that they were looking for entry-level landscape architects with previous work experience and leadership roles, only 31.45 percent felt entry-level candidates have the right critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Only 35.75 percent of firms believe landscape architect students are graduating with the skills their employers need.
Despite this opinion, 54.62 percent of the landscape architecture firms with two or more employees reported they are not having a hard time finding qualified candidates.
The American Society of Landscape Architects conducted the second quarter 2016 survey among 177 firms from July 1 to July 15. ASLA says the Business Quarterly survey is not intended to be statistically significant but rather to provide a snapshot of the landscape architecture industry.