Market Overview

Uneven Conditions for Landscape Architecture Firms Found in Latest ASLA Business Survey

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Billable hours rise, while inquiries for new work and hiring plans
lag.

Landscape architecture firms are facing a subdued business outlook,
according to the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Business
Quarterly
survey for the second quarter of 2018. Based on the
responses of 116 primary firm contacts, the survey indicates that
billable hours remain a positive indicator of economic health. However,
inquiries for new work and plans to hire declined.

A five-year comparison of survey results shows that numbers for the
second quarter are well within range of previous trends. The survey is
not intended to be statistically significant but instead provides a
snapshot of the landscape architecture industry.

Fully 80.2 percent of respondents reported stable to significantly
higher billable hours for the second quarter, a rise from the 75.3
percent reported for the first quarter. This value is on the low end of
what had been reported for the second quarters of 2017 (85.1 percent),
2016 (82.7 percent), 2015 (86.7 percent) and 2014 (82.4 percent).

The story was the same for inquiries for new work. Some 81.7 percent of
those surveyed reported stable to significantly higher inquiries for new
work—below what had been reported for the first quarter (85.1 percent).
It is about the same for what had been reported for the second quarter
of 2016 (81.0 percent) but below 2017 (83.1 percent), 2015 (84.5
percent) and 2014 (84.7 percent).

Year to year, 77.4 percent of respondents reported that billable hours
were stable to significantly higher, a drop from what had been reported
for the second quarter of 2017 (80.8 percent). This value is also on the
low end of the year-to-year reporting from the second quarters of 2016
(78.6 percent), 2015 (85.2 percent) and 2014 (81.3 percent).

Year to year, some 84.1 percent of respondents reported stable to
significantly higher inquiries for new work. This number is greater than
what had been reported for the second quarters of 2017 (82.6 percent)
and 2016 (83.4 percent). It is about the same as the value reported for
the second quarter of 2015 (84.9 percent), and less than what had been
reported for the second quarter of 2014 (85.2 percent).

Some 53 percent of respondents from firms with two or more employees
said they plan to hire during the third quarter of 2018, a sharp drop
from the first quarter of 2018 (66 percent). This value surpasses the
percentages reported for the second quarters of 2017 (52.3 percent),
2016 (51.2 percent), 2015 (48.1 percent) and 2014 (51.8 percent).

Key Survey Highlights

Compared to the first quarter 2018, your second quarter 2018 billable
hours were (all firms):
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 14.7%
Slightly
higher (5% to 10% higher) – 31.9%
About the same (plus or minus 5%
or less) – 33.6%
Slightly lower (between 5% and 10% lower) – 14.7%
Significantly
lower (more than 10%) – 5.2%

Compared to the first quarter 2018, your second quarter 2018 inquiries
for new work were (all firms):
Significantly higher (more than 10%)
– 14.8%
Slightly higher (5% to 10% higher) – 36.5%
About the
same (plus or minus 5% or less) – 30.4%
Slightly lower (between 5%
and 10% lower) – 13.9%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 4.4%

Year to year, compared to the second quarter in 2017, your second
quarter 2018 billable hours were (all firms):
Significantly higher
(more than 10%) – 20.9%
Slightly higher (5% to 10% higher) – 32.2%
About
the same (plus or minus 5% or less) – 24.4%
Slightly lower (between
5% and 10% lower) – 13.0%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 9.6%

Year to year, compared to the second quarter in 2017, your second
quarter 2018 inquiries for new work were (all firms):
Significantly
higher (more than 10%) – 18.6%
Slightly higher (5% to 10% higher) –
34.5%
About the same (plus or minus 5% or less) – 31.0%
Slightly
lower (between 5% and 10% lower) –-9.7%
Significantly lower (more
than 10%) – 6.2%

Do you plan on hiring any employees in the third quarter of 2018
(multiple answers filtered for firms with two or more employees)?
Yes,
we'll be hiring an experienced landscape architect – 17.7%
Yes,
we'll be hiring an entry level landscape architect – 29.4%
Yes,
we'll be hiring an intern – 5.9%
Yes, we'll be hiring support staff
– 3.5%
Yes, we'll be hiring other design/architecture/engineering
staff – 15.3%
Yes, we'll be hiring other staff – 8.2%
No,
we're currently not hiring – 47.1%

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 Q2 2018 national survey was
fielded July 9 to July 23, 2018, with 116 primary firm contacts
responding.

About ASLA

Founded in 1899, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is
the professional association for landscape architects in the United
States, representing more than 15,000 members. The Society's mission is
to advance landscape architecture through advocacy, communication,
education and fellowship. Sustainability has been part of ASLA's mission
since its founding and is an overarching value that informs all of the
Society's programs and operations. ASLA has been a leader in
demonstrating the benefits of green infrastructure and resilient
development practices through the creation of its own green roof,
co-development of the SITES® Rating System, and the creation of publicly
accessible sustainable design resources.

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