American Council of Engineering Companies
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More Engineering Firms See 'Normal' At Least a Year Away

May 26, 2020
Latest ACEC member survey finds firms now believe a “return to normal” after COVID-19 pandemic will take 12-18 months.


Washington, DC, May 14, 2020 - More U.S. engineering firm leaders now believe a “return to normal” for their businesses will take between 12-18 months, a significant increase compared to nearly a month ago, the latest ACEC Research Institute Business Impact Survey 6 reveals.

“The sixth wave of the Business Impact Survey continues to see the engineering industry grapple with the effects of the pandemic with a greater number of firm leaders feeling less optimistic about a quick return to normal for their businesses,” said ACEC Research Institute Chair John Carrato. “Thankfully, we are seeing a significant number of engineering firms of various sizes securing PPP loans, which are essential to maintaining cash-flow during the economic downturn."

Conducted May 5-6 of 492 engineering firm leaders nationwide, results show firm leaders are now less optimistic (27%) about a “return to normal” within six months compared to (37%) a month ago. Conversely, more firms now believe it will take 12-18 months for a return to normal than last month (36% vs. 27%).

Engineering firms continue to implement cost reductions as a result of COVID-19 impacted finances. Top actions remain freezing non-essential purchases (46%), speeding up collections (39%) and freezing salary/pay increases (33%).

The survey also shows that nearly nine out of 10 engineering firms (88%) applied for the Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and nearly all (94%) say they were approved. Among firms whose application was approved, 84% have already actually received funds.

“The SBA Paycheck Protection Program has been a much-needed infusion of capital for U.S. engineering firms, which has helped limit staff cuts and keep the industry primed to serve as the nation grinds toward recovery,” said ACEC President & CEO Linda Bauer Darr.

Other survey results include the vast majority of firms plan to implement numerous safety measures once they re-open their offices. Top measures remain maintaining social distancing (95%) and allowing staff to work remotely to care for others (85%).

To view the executive summary of the survey, click here.


Contact: Jeff Urbanchuk, 202-374-7474, [email protected].

For more on the ACEC Research Institute, visit:

Launched in April 2020, the ACEC Research Institute is the new research arm of the American Council of Engineering Companies, the leading business association of the nation’s engineering industry. The ACEC Research Institute’s mission is to deliver knowledge and business strategies that guide and elevate the engineering industry and to be the leading source of knowledge and thought leadership for creating a more sustainable, safe, secure and technically advanced built environment.