Business conditions remained stalled for the landscape architecture profession in the fourth quarter of 2013, but may be entering a turnaround, according to the latest American Society of Landscape Architects’ Business Quarterly survey. Although billable hours and inquiries for new work dipped during the fourth quarter, about half of all firms indicated plans to hire in early 2014—a sign they are expecting more work.

Some 75.7 percent of respondents reported stable to improved billable hours, a decline from the third quarter of 2013 (80.6 percent). Another 74.9 percent reported stable to higher inquiries from potential clients for new work, similar to what had been reported from the previous quarter (78 percent).

Year to year, 81.5 percent of respondents indicated fourth-quarter billable hours remained about the same or were higher. Additionally, 81.5 percent claimed steady or increased inquiries for new work compared to Q4 2012.

Across the board, the majority of respondents (68.4 percent) indicated slightly to significantly improved business results for 2013, compared to 2012. Of all firms with two or more employees, nearly half (48.5 percent) indicated they plan to hire in the first quarter of 2014. Half of all firms with 50 to 99 employees will be hiring an experienced landscape architect in the first quarter of 2014.

“The hiring picture is encouraging, a finding that is mirrored in the recent growth in postings to ASLA’s job board, JobLink,” said Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA, executive vice president and CEO of ASLA. “Furthermore, year-to-year comparisons also point in the right direction.”

The survey also asked firms about their K-12 outreach in 2013. Fully 17.4 percent of survey respondents indicated they participated in some type of student activities specifically related to the landscape architecture profession. The most popular outreach activity took place in the classroom (45.8 percent for all firms that responded positively), followed by outdoor/field activity (29.2 percent), student mentorship (29.2 percent), and visits to the firm (22.9 percent). Most firms supported between one to three events (83.3 percent).

Increasing awareness of the landscape architecture profession (72.9 percent) was the most important benefit cited by survey respondents that reported conducting activities, followed by inspiring students to become landscape architects (43.8 percent), enriching the lives of schoolchildren by relating school to work (35.4 percent), and becoming positive role models for students (35.4 percent). A full 83.3 percent of those who hosted activities described their satisfaction in participation in school outreach as fairly to very high, while 57.1 percent described their firms’ commitment to K-12 outreach as fairly to very high.

For more on the survey results, visit the ASLA website.