The worst of the recession might finally be over for landscape architecture firms. According to the latest American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Business Quarterly survey, firm leaders reported higher levels of billable hours, hiring and especially inquiries for new work – suggesting that the spring thaw could also apply to an industry hit hard by the lack of new design and construction projects over the past two years.
According to the survey, 56.4 percent of firm leaders reported stable or above levels of billable hours in the first quarter of 2010, up from 45.5 percent last quarter and 25.2 percent from the same time last year. Inquiries for new work grew substantially as 72.2 percent responded with steady or higher levels, up from 53.7 percent last quarter and 25.3 this time last year. In addition, 21.6 percent of firm leaders reported plans to hire in the upcoming quarter – the highest number since the third quarter of 2008.
“The large number of inquiries marks an important sign of recovery, but by no means is this a suddenly booming economy for landscape architects,” said ASLA Executive Vice President and CEO Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA. “However, we hope this signifies an industry finally growing instead of contracting.”
The survey also asked about work related to federal stimulus funds. Among landscape architecture firm leaders, 23.2 percent reported work directly from stimulus funds, about the same (22.3 percent) as last quarter.