RALEIGH – Optimism among Triangle entrepreneurs dropped for the second straight month in the latest quarterly survey conducted by the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic and the City of Raleigh.

However, the index remains well above the record low set in the second quarter of 2016 and is still higher than Q4 2016, which is the lowest recent total.

Overall, the decline is “slightly lower” in key categories: Hiring, capital spending and expectations for growth.

The index slipped to 111.33 from 114.67 in Q3.

Both totals were down from the record high of 123.80 in the second quarter of this year.

A year ago, the survey came in at 117.17.

But the director of the survey, Lewis Sheats, sees a pattern in the decline and doesn’t seem to be worried about it.

“We’ve now seen a slight decline in the latter half of the year in three of the last four years,” said Sheats. The associate professor of practice in entrepreneurship in the NC State University Poole College of Management and executive director of the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic noted that the drop “is likely that, based on the patterns we have observed over the past seventeen quarters, there is something systematic about our ecosystem in the second half of the year.”

The survey launched in the fourth quarter of 2014.

“Perhaps the entrepreneurial ventures in our ecosystem do all their planning and forecasting early in the year and pull back a bit in the third and fourth quarters,” Sheats added in the announcement about the latest survey results.

“Now that we have these data and can see the patterns emerge, we can explore possible reasons for what we are experiencing. We don’t know yet whether a second half of the year decline is a negative sign or just an artifact of the ventures here in our area.”

Despite the lower optimism, entrepreneurs are anticipating growth as the national economy surges along at well over 3 percent annual GDP:

  • 64.2 percent plan to add workers, down from 64.9 percent in Q3
  • 53.1 percent plan more capital spending, down from 57.2 percent
  • 81.5 percent expect revenue growth, down from 83.6 percent