More than two in three U.S. engineering firm leaders (68 percent) say the current business climate is better than last year at this time and three in five (60.5 percent) say their backlogs are larger now compared to last year, according to results from the American Council of Engineering Companies‘ new quarterly Engineering Business Index (EBI).
The EBI, representing responses of 340 engineering firm chairmen, CEOs and presidents had a composite score of 68.9 in the second quarter—a slight increase from 67.4 in the first quarter. The EBI is a diffusion index, consolidating answers to a series of questions about market and firm performance into a single number. Any number over 50 indicates expansion.
Results show that engineering firm leaders are more optimistic about prospects in private sector markets than those in the public sector. At least half believe that opportunities in buildings/commercial (53.3 percent), land development/surveying (54 percent), and industrial/manufacturing (50 percent) will improve over the next 12 months.
Expectations for major public sector markets were markedly lower. Only 41.5 percent of respondents anticipate improvement in the transportation sector, and only 40.9 percent believe opportunities in the water/wastewater sector will grow over the next 12 months.
“After years of a stagnant economy, engineers are beginning to see evidence of an improved business climate,” said ACEC President and CEO David A. Raymond. “Uncertainty regarding government funding is obviously dampening expectations for public sector markets.”