Market confidence takes a dip

The Washington Technology Contractor Confidence Index has dipped for the third straight quarter, but hiring and revenue growth parameters indicate some positive trends ahead.

Our Contractor Confidence Index has taken a slight dip to 98.3 in the second quarter, according to our survey exploring the market's sentiment through June 30.

The 98.3 index number is about one point lower than the 99.4 market for the first quarter. It is the third quarter the index has fallen since hitting a peak of 101.9 for the third quarter of 2015.

The index is a score based on an aggregation of responses to the set of survey questions we've asked each quarter since the first quarter of 2015. We've now conducted six quarterly surveys.

The first survey set the base line index number of 100, and the surveys since then compare changes from quarter to quarter.

The third quarter and fourth quarter of 2015 had the highest index scores with 101.9 in the third quarter and 100.5 in the fourth.

The variations from quarter to quarter show the sentiment in the market to be rather steady.

For example, one of our questions asks about whether respondents feel the market is headed in a positive or negative direction. In the first survey in 2015, 29.5 percent answered yes. In the most recent survey, the response rate was 28.5 percent.

Some of the written comments to that question indicate that lowest price, technically acceptable contracting is still an issue, as are funding issues and contracting delays. There were several complaints about procurement issues, bid protests and a lack of direction at the agencies.

At the same time, half of respondents have said they expect revenue to grow. In the most recent survey, 51.8 percent expected growth. That's higher than the previous two quarters. Those expecting revenue to shrink was 10.8 percent, which was the lowest since the first survey in 2015 when 10.8 said they expected revenue to shrink.

Nearly half expect hiring to increase, and only 20.5 percent expect layoffs of other cost-cutting in the next six months.

Job satisfaction also remains high with 65.3 percent saying they love what they do and only 3.6 percent saying they dread going to work.

We'll be conducting one more survey before the elections in November when we'll look at the third quarter.

Do you feel the market is headed in a positive or negative direction?

Do you expect your company's revenue to grow, shrink or stay the same over the next six months?

Do you expect your company's infrastructure investments to increase, decrease or stay the same?

Do you expect your company's hiring to increase or decrease in the next six months?

Do you expect your company to announce layoffs or other cost-cutting strategies in the next six months?

Are you happy/satisfied with your job?

Are you currently looking for a job?