Landscape architects remain busy despite trouble in the housing market, according to a recent survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).
The ASLA survey asked quarterly benchmarks on key statistics including billable hours, inquiries and hiring plans, with 319 firms responding.
More than six in ten firms reported steady or increased work, and nearly four in ten firms plan to hire in the first quarter of 2008.
The fourth quarter of 2007 saw the majority of firms staying busy despite largermarket troubles. Fifty-nine percent of respondents described their billable hours as "well above average" (six percent), "slightly above average" (25 percent), or "average" (27 percent).
When asked to compare Q4 2007 with Q4 2006, 61 percent said their hours were either "higher" (31 percent) or "about the same" (30 percent).
Firms shared their concerns in the survey as well. One small Midwest firm said its outlook for billable hours was showing significant improvement. A large national firm said it was pursuing more relationships with commercial developers. Other firms spoke of their experiences with seasonal construction slowdowns, drought-related problems and concerns about inflation and energy costs effecting profit margins.
New inquiries in Q4 2007 were similarly positive: six percent reported well above average inquiries, 19 percent reported slightly above, 31 percent reported average and 44 percent reported their inquiries were down this quarter. When asked to compare Q4 2007 with Q4 2006, 56 percent said that their new inquiries were either "higher" (19 percent) or "about the same" (37 percent).
The strong job market for landscape architects also remains steady. Fully 38 percent of firms plan to hire in the first quarter of 2008, representing little change from those who planned to hire in the fourth quarter of 2007 (40 percent).
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of landscape architects must grow by 16 percent by 2016 in order to meet growing demand for services. The survey asked firms how they are helping to grow the profession, and more than 40 percent reported they actively conduct outreach to school-aged children to promote careers in landscape architecture.
ASLA is the national professional association for landscape architects whose mission is to lead, to educate and to participate in the stewardship, wise planning and artful design of cultural and natural environments.