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Business Quarterly Continues to Show Uncertain Conditions for the Profession

A steadier future hiring picture has emerged for the landscape architecture profession, according to the American Society of Landscape Architects’ fourth quarter 2012 Business Quarterly survey. However, a slight drop in fourth-quarter billable hours shows that some uncertainty still haunts firms.

Some 66.5 percent of respondents reported stable to improved billable hours, a decline from the third quarter of 2012 (71.5 percent). Another 74.2 percent reported stable to higher inquiries from potential clients for new work, similar to what had been reported from the previous quarter (74 percent).  

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Year to year, 72.1 percent of respondents indicated fourth-quarter billable hours remained about the same or were higher. Additionally, 80.2 percent claimed steady or increased billable hours compared to Q4 2011.

Overall, more than three quarters of respondents (76.4 percent) indicated stable to improved business results for 2012, compared to 2011. Of all firms with 10 or more employees, 45.6 percent indicated that they would be hiring in the Q1 2013, about the same as the previous quarter (42.4 percent). Nearly one quarter (24.8 percent) of firms with two or more employees will be hiring a landscape architect next quarter, either entry-level or experienced.

“Many landscape architecture firms experienced a positive momentum this year, and this reflects well on the profession’s resolve and flexibility,” says Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA, executive vice president and CEO of ASLA. “We are not out of the woods yet, of course, but we are optimistic that conditions will continue to improve in the months ahead.”


Key Survey Highlights
Compared to the third quarter 2012, your fourth quarter 2012 billable hours were:
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 10.0%
Slightly higher (5 to 10% higher) – 25.2%
About the same (plus or minus 5%) – 31.3%
Slightly lower (5 to 10% lower) – 21.0%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 12.5 %

Compared to the third quarter 2012, your fourth quarter 2012 inquiries for new work were:
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 10.9%
Slightly higher (5 to 10% higher) – 31.2%
About the same (plus or minus 5%) – 32.1%
Slightly lower (5 to 10% lower) – 16.4%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 9.4%

Year to year, compared to the fourth quarter in 2011, your fourth quarter 2012 billable hours were:
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 22.0%
Slightly higher (5 to 10% higher) – 29.4%
About the same (plus or minus 5%) – 20.7%
Slightly lower (5 to 10% lower) – 13.9%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 13.9%

Year to year, compared to the fourth quarter in 2011, your fourth quarter 2012 inquiries for new work were:
Significantly higher (more than 10%) – 19.9%
Slightly higher (5 to 10% higher) – 31.4%
About the same (plus or minus 5%) – 28.9%
Slightly lower (5 to 10% lower) – 10.6%
Significantly lower (more than 10%) – 9.3%

Do you plan on hiring any employees in the first quarter of 2013 (multiple answers, including sole proprietors)?
Yes, we’ll be hiring an experienced landscape architect – 7.6%
Yes, we’ll be hiring an entry-level landscape architect – 14.1%
Yes, we’ll be hiring an intern – 8.3%
Yes, we’ll be hiring support staff – 6.5%
Yes, we’ll be hiring other design/architecture/engineering staff – 9.4%
Yes, we’ll be hiring other staff – 4.0%
No, we’re not currently hiring – 63.0%

For those firms with two employees or more: 

 

BQ Chart

How would you describe business results for 2012 compared to 2011?
Significantly better (more than 10%) – 27.0%
Slightly better (5 to 10% higher) – 29.8%
About the same (plus or minus 5%) – 19.6%
Slightly worse (5 to 10% lower) – 15.0%
Significantly worse (more than 10%) – 8.6%

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 Q4 2012 national survey was fielded January 14 to 25, 2013, with 338 primary firm contacts responding.



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