Confidence in Washington economy remains steady

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Confidence in the local economy among Washington, D.C., area executives remains high according to a survey released by the Greater Washington Board of Trade.

The Board of Trade’s latest Business Outlook Index had a composite score of 83, unchanged since April when the survey was last conducted. “This continues to be the highest level of confidence in Greater Washington’s business community since the beginning of the Business Outlook Survey in the midst of the economic downturn,” said Jim Dyke, chair of the Board of Trade and a partner with the law firm McGuireWoods LLP?

Slightly more than half of the 200 executives surveyed indicated their business’s overall financial situation has improved during the past year, and a majority says that their business will strengthen in the next year. “Nonetheless, the survey also reveals an increasingly cautious attitude as more business leaders expect economic conditions and their business’s financial situation will stay the same over the next six months,” said Jim Dinegar, president and CEO of the Board of Trade.

Sixty-four percent of those surveyed say current business and economic conditions in the region are “mostly good” while 20 percent said “mostly bad.”  The “mostly good” percentage is down slightly (4 points) since April, but still 36 points above the February 2009 survey.

Fifty-two percent of business executives say their company’s overall financial situation has improved during the past year, while 32 percent say it has stayed the same, and 17 percent say it has declined.

During the next year, 64 percent of executives surveyed expect their businesses to strengthen, down 10 points since April. Twenty-eight percent expect their business to stay the same, an increase of 8 points from the April survey.

Sixty-three percent of respondents in the latest survey expect sales to rise, down from 73 percent from April.  However, only 3 percent believe sales will fall, an improvement from 7 percent in the previous survey.

Thirty-nine percent of those surveyed expect their businesses to add employees in the next six months, while 6 percent anticipate layoffs.

The survey sample included 200 business executives across the region.  Interviews were conducted by telephone on Oct. 28–Nov. 3.

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