The grass retained a greener hue for U.S. landscape architecture firms in the first quarter of the year, an American Society of Landscape Architects’ survey indicates.
The survey found that 80.76 percent of firms responding to ASLA’s Business Quarterly survey reported stable to significantly higher billable hours in the first quarter, a sizeable surge from 74.47 percent for the previous quarter. The result is slightly lower than the 82.02 percent reported a year earlier (the first quarter of 2015), but considerably higher than figures reported during the first quarters of 2012 (71.3 percent), 2013 (76.1 percent) and 2014 (72.2 percent).
Inquiries for new work also rose sharply, while plans to hire dropped slightly from the previous quarter.
The results show that firms are building on the growth of the last couple of years. Also, the survey found that firms with two or more employees are placing high value on improving gender diversity, with the vast majority including women on senior management teams, ASLA said.
Crunching the numbers
The survey found that 80.43 percent of firms reported that inquiries for new work were stable to significantly higher, another major improvement from 71.73 percent the previous quarter. But the result is down from figures for the first quarters of 2013 (85.5 percent) and 2015 (85.34 percent); about the same as reported billable hours for the first quarter of 2014 (80.2 percent); and much higher than the first quarter of 2012 (76.2 percent).
Year to year, some 75.66 percent of firms said billable hours were stable to significantly higher, down from 80.52 percent for the first quarter of 2015. The first-quarter number is higher than the first quarters of 2012 (71.3 percent), 2013 (76.1 percent) and 2014 (76 percent).
Year to year, some 81.05 percent of respondents said that first quarter inquiries for new work were stable to significantly higher. This result is within the range of what was reported for the first quarters of 2015 (83.24 percent) and 2014 (83.4 percent), and higher than what had been reported for the first quarters of 2012 (76.2 percent) and 2013 (59.5 percent).
The majority of firms with two or more employees (59.44 percent) say they plan to hire during the second quarter of 2016, a slight drop from the previous quarter (61.54 percent), but sharply higher than 2012 (28.2 percent), 2013 (54.5 percent) and 2014 (49.4 percent). Some 54.84 percent of firms with 10 to 49 employees say they will hire either an experienced landscape architect or an entry-level landscape architect.
Gender diversity on the agenda
The ASLA survey also asked respondents about their firms’ strategies and tactics for gender diversity, and found that 53.57 percent of firms with two or more employees say that gender diversity is an important issue for them.
Firms with two or more employees also said they have undertaken the following measures to promote gender diversity:
- provide flexible working conditions and/or locations (67.83 percent);
- give equal pay for equal work (65.73 percent); and
- follow family-friendly programs or policies (56.64 percent).
The survey found that 80.99 percent of firms with two or more employees say they include women on senior leadership teams.
For full first-quarter survey announcement: ASLA survey.