Washington, D.C., July 21, 2009 — In the midst of a struggling economy, new signs of recovery appeared for landscape architecture firms, according to the latest American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Business Quarterly survey. While most firms still face serious economic challenges, small improvements emerged across all indicators – including hiring.
Fully 32 percent of firm representatives responding indicated normal or above billable hours in the second quarter of 2009, compared to 25.2 percent last quarter. In addition, 32.2 percent reported normal or above inquiries for work, representing an increase from 25.3 percent last quarter. Approximately one in seven firms (14.3 percent) plan to hire, a slight increase from 11.2 percent previously.
“We remain cautiously optimistic that these positive signs point to the start of a real recovery. However, many hurdles still exist for firms. Private sector projects face challenges in securing financing, strong competition exists for limited public work and larger firms are finding many projects coming from overseas,” said Nancy Somerville, Executive Vice President and CEO of ASLA.
The survey also asked firm representatives about potential work from economic stimulus funds in their markets. Six in ten (60.1 percent) firms reported stimulus funds in their markets, and 14.3 percent reported receiving work directly from the funds last quarter – an increase over 7.8 percent in the first quarter of 2009.
Compared to the first quarter of 2009, your second quarter 2009 billable hours were:
Well above normal (10% or more higher) – 2.6%
Slightly above normal (between 5% and 10% higher) – 11.2%
Right where they usually are, or normal (plus or minus 5%) – 18.2%
Slightly below normal (between 5% and 10% lower) – 26.0%
Well below normal (10% or more lower) – 42.0%
Compared to the first quarter of 2009, your second quarter 2009 inquiries were:
Well above normal (10% or more higher) – 3.2%
Slightly above normal (between 5% and 10% higher) – 13.9%
Right where they usually are, or normal (plus or minus 5%) – 15.1%
Slightly below normal (between 5% and 10% lower) – 26.5%
Well below normal (10% or more lower) – 41.4%
Compared to the second quarter in 2008, your second quarter 2009 billable hours were:
Higher (5% or more) – 8.8%
About the same (plus or minus 5%) – 13.9%
Lower (5% or less) – 73.3%
Don’t know – 4.0%
Compared to the second quarter in 2008, your second quarter 2009 inquiries were:
Higher (5% or more) – 7.1%
About the same (plus or minus 5%) – 17.2%
Lower (5% or less) – 71.5%
Don’t know – 4.2%
Do you plan on hiring any employees in the second quarter 2009? (multiple answers):
Experienced landscape architect – 3.2%
Entry level landscape architect – 4.0%
Intern – 3.4%
Support staff – 2.2%
Other design/architecture/engineering staff – 4.2%
Other staff – 1.8%
Not hiring – 85.7%
Has your market received any stimulus funds and, if so, has your practice benefited?
My markets have not received any funds – 39.9%
My markets have received funds, but my practice, thus far, has not received work as a result – 45.8%
My market has received funds and my practice has work as a result – 14.3%
About the Survey
The ASLA Business Quarterly survey asks quarterly benchmarks on key statistics including billable hours, inquiries, and hiring plans. The Q2 2009 national survey was fielded July 7 through July 15, with 507 firm representatives responding.