Wisconsin Public Radio

Survey Finds Pandemic Hurt State Businesses

39% said it had "somewhat negative” effect, 36% a "very negative” effect on business.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Jul 13th, 2020 03:15 pm
Closed. Photo by Alan Levine. (CC BY 2.0). https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Closed. Photo by Alan Levine. (CC BY 2.0). https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Three-quarters of Wisconsin employers say that COVID-19 has negatively impacted their business, according to new survey results from Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), the state’s business lobbying group.

Thirty-nine percent said the pandemic and the state’s now-defunct stay-at-home order has had a “somewhat negative” effect on their business, and 36 percent said those factors had a “very negative” effect.

“I think it’s obvious that the survey shows that COVID-19 has had a profound and near universal impact on businesses and the broader economy,” Kurt Bauer, president and CEO of WMC, said.

Businesses said the chief issue they’re facing is regulations related to the coronavirus, marking the first time in five years that Wisconsin’s worker shortage is not the most important issue for businesses surveyed.

A lack of qualified applicants was still high on the list for many businesses in the state, with 16 percent saying it was the top public policy issue facing Wisconsin.

Bauer said that was initially surprising to him given the state’s high unemployment rate during the pandemic, but he added it makes sense given how enduring the problem has been for businesses in recent years.

“Finding good employees is a big concern for businesses,” he said. “Businesses need good workers, and they’re just in short supply in Wisconsin.”

Wisconsin’s preliminary unemployment rate of 12 percent in May marked a small improvement from the month prior, but the number remains high by historical standards.

WMC surveyed close to 150 employers in Wisconsin in the last two weeks of June. The respondents come from a range of sectors and account for a representative sample of the organization’s membership, which skews toward businesses in the manufacturing sector.

When asked about staffing, nearly half of businesses surveyed said they don’t expect the number of employees on their payroll to change over the next six months. Another 30 percent said they expect to increase the number of employees on staff, while 20 percent said they expect to see decreases.

Businesses were lukewarm on the strength of the state and national economies. Fifty-seven percent of employers surveyed said Wisconsin’s economy was moderately strong, and 46 percent said the same for the national economy.

The vast majority of companies reported COVID-19 would make them less profitable this year but there were differing responses about how deeply the toll would be felt. Fifty-one percent of businesses surveyed said despite being less profitable overall, they expected to end the year in the black. But close to a quarter of those surveyed said they’ll be less profitable and will end the year with a loss.

Three-Quarters Of Wisconsin Employers Say COVID-19 Has Had Negative Effect On Business was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

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