Survey Reveals COVID-19’s Broad Impact, Solutions for Rebuilding Connecticut’s Economy

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The coronavirus pandemic has caused greater damage to Connecticut’s economy than the 2008-2010 recession according to the results of a new survey released today.

The 2020 Survey of Connecticut Businesses, produced by CBIA and the public accounting and business advisory firm Marcum LLP, illustrates how employers are navigating an extraordinarily challenging and unprecedented period.

Released at the annual The Connecticut Economy conference, the survey shows the full economic cost of the pandemic, with revenue and profitability at historic lows, an uncertain employment outlook, and concerns about the state’s recovery.

Key findings:

  • More than half of survey respondents either cut hours, laid off employees, or imposed furloughs because of the impact of pandemic-related shutdowns and restrictions
  • Employers implemented additional, voluntary health and safety precautions to protect employees and prevent workplace transmission of the coronavirus 
  • 86% of companies applied for a federal PPP loan and 19% applied for one of the state’s emergency assistance programs
  • Only a quarter of firms expect sales growth in the next 12 months, with more than two-thirds seeing a decrease in orders and sales this year because of COVID-19 disruptions
  • Less than half of surveyed companies expect to return a profit in 2020—an historic low for this survey
  • Most firms expect their employment levels to remain stable over the next six months, with 20% forecasting growth and 20% a decline
  • The outlook for both the state and national economies is muted—only 12% expect the Connecticut economy to expand next year, with 30% forecasting national growth

Small Businesses ‘Struggling’

CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima said small businesses—key to the state’s economic health—are “clearly struggling to get back on their feet as a result of the pandemic.” 

“While Connecticut is recovering better than most states, this survey clearly illustrates there’s a lot at risk with our economy,” DiPentima said.

“We must do everything we can to support and nurture employers, particularly small businesses, as they lead the recovery.

“While Connecticut is recovering better than most states, this survey clearly illustrates there’s a lot at risk with our economy.”

CBIA’s Chris DiPentima

“This is about creating a strong, more sustainable environment for the state’s economic recovery and addressing the issues that traditionally hamper growth or will block future growth.”

Michael Brooder, the Hartford managing partner for Marcum LLP, said the survey revealed areas of opportunity for policymakers to pursue to improve the state’s business climate and drive economic growth.

“This year we saw one of the best responses to this survey in many years,” Brooder said.

“With the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, companies want their voices heard, and they’re focused on getting the state’s employers back up and running.”

Policy Recommendations

The survey includes policy recommendations designed to help businesses—particularly small businesses—manage the high cost of navigating COVID-19 restrictions, create and retain jobs, and rebuild.

Those recommendations include initiatives to drive workforce development, infrastructure investments, urban renewal, small business relief, and a greater return for taxpayer dollars.

“We face unprecedented challenges in the coming months, but they are challenges that we can overcome by dramatically reshaping the relationship between the public and private sectors,” DiPentima said.

2020 Survey of Connecticut Businesses

“Let’s work together to shape policies that drive economic growth, create opportunities for everybody, and continue to make Connecticut a great place to live, work, and raise a family.”

The 2020 Survey of Connecticut Businesses was mailed and emailed from July 8 through July 29 to more than 6,600 top executives throughout the state; 962 business leaders participated in the survey, with a response rate of 14.5% and a margin of error of +/-3%.

The majority of surveyed firms are small businesses—82% employ less than 50 people, with 9% employing 50-100 workers, 5% between 100 and 249, 2% 250 to 499, while 1% of respondents employ more than 500 employees.

CBIA is Connecticut’s largest business organization, with thousands of member companies, small and large, representing a diverse range of industries from every part of the state. For more information, please contact Joe Budd (860.244.1951).


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