The economy may be uncertain, but the engineering industry has had a good year and its members believe the outlook for the future is bright, reports a survey conducted by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), Washington, D.C.

Of the approximately 600 firms that responded to ACEC's 2001 Annual Business Trends Survey, 56% of principals reported outstanding business, and 54% believe the U.S. market will remain strong for the next 18 months.

Net revenue per employee jumped from $97,547 in 1999 to $106,395 in 2000. This amount remains fairly consistent with other industry figures, which set net revenue per employee at $100,000. However, profit margin as a percentage of net revenue (before taxes and discretionary distribution to owners) remained static at 16%.

Also remaining the same were most of the core business issues impacting firms. The central issues of concern to firms this past year were profitability (59%), cash flow (39%), and lack of qualified staff (37%). When asked which expertise would benefit their firm most, nearly half of the principals answered marketing (49%). Following in importance were quality management (34%), leadership development (30%), and strategic planning (27%).