WASHINGTON — 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 John Carrato, chair, research institute, ACEC. “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%).

Click here to view the executive summary of the survey. For more information about the ACEC Research Institute, visit www.acecresearchinstitute.org.