Shutdown's impact still being felt, survey says

The 16-day government shutdown had a broad impact across contractors, government and other industries as described in a new survey by the market research firm ORI.

Among its findings is that concerns continue to linger about the willingness of new hires to work for government or contractors.  But nearly half of the contractors survey feel optimistic about their business opportunities.

According to a White House assessment, the shutdown resulted in 6.6 million lost workdays for federal employees, back-pay costs exceeding $2 billion and the creation of 120,000 fewer jobs in the private sector than had been projected for the fourth quarter of 2013.

The U.S. economy took an estimated hit of $24 billion. The travel industry also took a hit by $152 million, including the $450,000 that the National Park Service lost each day from uncollected park entrance fees and in-park activities.

The survey by ORI detailed 10 key findings:

1. The shutdown didn’t just affect Washington, with 46 percent of respondents reporting that their organizations were either very or extremely impacted by the shutdown, and the pool of respondents came from both inside and outside of the Washington area.

2. The shutdown affected a large cross-section of the economy, from the inability to work on federal contracts to the lack of access to federal business services. As a result, 31 percent of respondent’s organizations delayed or canceled conferences or events, 24 percent decreased staff hours and 23 percent delayed or canceled hiring decisions. Agencies reported even higher disruptions, with 75 percent canceling events, 64 percent adjusting staff hours and 53 delayed or canceled hiring decisions. Thirty-seven percent reported that they canceled strategic investments due to the shutdown.

3. The resolution that ended the shutdown did little for the people’s faith in the U.S. government. Seventy-nine percent reported that they were less confident in Washington’s ability to address challenges, and 74 percent doubted political leaders would address issues that they were most concerned about.

4. The governing climate leading to the shutdown has undermined business optimism. Seventy-four percent said that the governing climate will make it less likely that strong economic growth will occur in the next year.

5. Government contractors were more optimistic than others about the prospects of their business, with 48 percent saying that they were optimistic about their own organization’s growth, despite the 79 percent of contractors who didn’t see any strong economic growth coming in the next year.

6. The outlook between senior executives and lower staff differs significantly, with senior executives exuding far more confidence and optimism than lower-level staff. Lower-level staff were also three times more likely to think that they would be furloughed or laid off within the next six months.

7. Alarm over the shutdown led business leaders to take action, with 75 percent contacting a member of Congress during the shutdown. Senior executives were more likely to believe that the United States defaulting on its debt would have extensive medium-to-long range effects on the economy, with 46 percent saying this. The Republican Party also took a huge PR hit, with 86 percent of respondents reporting unfavorable perceptions of the party. Only 55 percent had unfavorable perceptions of the Democratic Party, and 49 percent held unfavorable perceptions of the President.

8. Recruiting the “best and the brightest” to support strategic initiatives is a key priority, but could be challenging. Fifty-five percent of federal respondents and 45 percent of contractors indicated that finding qualified employees was important, but as a result of the shutdown, 66 percent of all respondents believe that qualified candidates won’t want to work for the government.

9. Social media’s value as an alternative news source is continuing to grow, with 63 percent saying that content on social media was good or better than information on traditional news channels. Sixty-six percent reported that content on social media was at least moderately valuable.

10. Social media did little to shape opinions about the shutdown, though, with 59 percent reporting that content on social media websites did little to sway their feelings on the shutdown.

Theentire survey can be found here.

About the Author

Mark Hoover is a senior staff writer with Washington Technology. You can contact him at, or connect with him on Twitter at @mhooverWT.

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