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ACEC News / Convention

April 30, 2021

ACEC Research Institute Studies Show Engineering is “Critical Player on Economic Mainstage”

At the ACEC Annual Convention, the ACEC Research Institute highlighted recent studies that calculated the size and economic impact of the engineering industry, surveyed engineering firms on the effects of COVID, and forecast the market over the coming five years.

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Kenneth McGill of Rockport Analytics offered some eye-opening statistics about the engineering industry:

  • Average wage in the industry is $88,000.
  • Five states comprise 40 percent of engineering industry output: California, Texas, Florida,, New York, and Michigan.
  • 120 engineering firms employ half the workers in the industry.
  • A/E services account for 5.3 percent of total construction output.
  • Each additional $1 in AE revenue contributes $1.55 in U.S. GDP.

Joe Bates of the Research Institute reported on the key findings from eight surveys of ACEC members on the impact of COVID-19 on their firms:

  • Forty-two percent of firms say they are doing better than before the pandemic, but 31 percent say they are doing worse.
  • Backlogs have increased for nearly half the firms, with the largest firms reporting the biggest increases.
  • From September 2020 to March 2021, the smallest firms saw their backlogs increase from 3.5 months to five months.

Jonathan Gray of Rockport Analytics highlighted the results of the Institute’s five-year industry forecast:

  • Engineering services output will fall about 4 percent in 2021, but all of the decline will be in the first half; the market will start growing in the second half of 2021.
  • The market will have 3 percent annual growth from 2022 to 2024.
  • In 2025, the market will tail off as the effects of economic stimulus fade.

Gray emphasized that the forecast does not include any of the infrastructure proposals being considered on Capitol Hill. Once Congress passes an infrastructure bill, the Institute will factor that impact into a revised forecast.  


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