Trump market impact prompts surge in optimism for U.S. engineering firm leaders

The boost in firm leader optimism extends across almost the entire engineering marketplace.

January 09, 2017 |

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The Trump Administration’s plans for infrastructure investment, regulatory reform, and tax relief have ignited a burst of enthusiasm among U.S. engineering firm leaders, propelling the American Council of Engineering Companies’ Engineering Business Index (EBI) to its largest ever quarterly increase.

The 4th Quarter 2016 (Q4/2016) EBI surged 5.1 points to 66.5, up from the 61.4 score of Q3/2016. The previous largest increase was 1.5 points between the Q1/2014 and Q2/2014 surveys. Any score above 50 signifies that the market is growing The EBI is a leading indicator of America’s economic health based on the business performance and projections of engineering firms responsible for developing the nation’s transportation, water, energy, and industrial infrastructure. The Q4/2016 survey of 317 engineering firm leaders was conducted November 31 to December 20.

Survey results show firm leader market expectations for one year from today rose a hefty 8.8 points to 72.1, the largest quarter-over-quarter increase since the EBI’s inception in January 2014. Expectations for both short- and long-term profitability also climbed. Firm leader optimism for improved profitability over the next six months rose 3.6 points to 69.0; increased to 72.9 for one year from now; and climbed 2.9 points to 70.5 for three years from now.

“We finally have a president who understands business!” says one respondent. “We’re looking forward to some significant tax relief with the new Administration,” says another.

The boost in firm leader optimism extends across almost the entire engineering marketplace. In public markets, transportation showed the strongest increase, up an eye-catching 9.5 points to 73.7.

All other public market sectors rose: Water and Wastewater (up 7.5, to 70.5), Education (up 3.2 to 58.2) Health Care (up 0.3, to 56.1), and Environmental (up 1.1 to 55.4). A new public sector category, Buildings, debuted at 65.2. Among the private client markets, firm leaders were most bullish about the Industrial/Manufacturing sector, which leaped up 12.5 points to 70.7. Four key private sector markets also climbed: Energy and Power (up 8.8, to 69.2), Land Development (up 8.2, to 68.4.), Buildings (up 4.1 to 67.0), and Education (up 5.2, to 58.5).

For the complete Quarter 4, 2016 Engineering Business Index, go to www.acec.org.

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