What’s the Business Landscape for Design Professionals?

Something many members look for is a set of statistics that detail the economy of the sports facility industry. This week, a new survey was released, providing insights into the industry of ASBA’s Design Professional Division.

According to a new survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects, it’s a mixed bag of news. While leading indicators in the survey remained generally positive—inquiries for new work and plans to hire jumped – billable hours fell.

A five-year comparison of the ASLA Quarterly Survey results shows that numbers for the first quarter are well within range and even surpassing some previous trends.

A full list of the trends identified can be found here; however, here is a synopsis:

  • The survey found 75.3 percent of responding firms reported stable to significantly higher billable hours for the first quarter of this year, a drop from the 82.4 percent from the fourth quarter of 2017. The result is well within range of what had been reported for the first quarters of 2017 (75.8 percent). 2016 (80.8 percent), 2015 (82.0 percent) and 2014 (72.0 percent). This comparison suggests that the drop in billable hours for the first quarter of 2018 may be just a temporary deviation.
  • The numbers were brighter for inquiries for new work—85.1 percent of respondents said their firms received stable to significantly higher inquiries, which is an increase over the 84.8 percent reported for the fourth quarter of 2017. This number is well within range for what had been reported for the first quarters of 2017 (85.4 percent), 2016 (80.4 percent), 2015 (85.3 percent) and 2014 (80.2 percent).
  • The survey found that year to year, 78.3 percent of firms reported that billable hours were stable to significantly higher, a jump from what had been noted for the first quarter of 2017 (73.3 percent). This number is higher for the year-to-year reporting from 2016 (75.7 percent), and 2014 (76.0 percent). It is less than what had been reported for the first quarter of 2015 (80.5 percent).
  • Year to year, 84.7 percent of respondents said that first quarter inquiries for new work were stable to significantly higher, about the same as what had been reported for the first quarter of 2017 (84.1 percent). It is higher than what had been reported for the first quarters of 2016 (81.1 percent), 2015 (83.2 percent) and 2014 (83.4 percent).
  • Some 66 percent of responding firms with two or more employees said they plan to hire during the second quarter of 2018, a noticeable jump from the fourth quarter of 2017 (60 percent). This number is a five-year high—greater than what had been reported for 2016 (59.4 percent), 2015 (61.5 percent) and 2014 (49.4 percent).
  • Some 80.0 percent of firms with 100 or more employees said they will hire either an experienced landscape architect or entry-level landscape architect.

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Business Quarterly survey asks quarterly benchmarks on key statistics including billable hours, inquiries and hiring plans. The survey is not intended to be statistically significant but instead provides a snapshot of the landscape architecture industry. The Q4 2017 national survey was fielded May 3 to May 17, 2018, with 176 primary firm contacts responding.

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