The majority of upstate business leaders do not think the state economy will come back anytime soon, according to a poll by the Siena Research Institute commissioned by the Business Council of New York State.
Of the CEOs polled, 40 percent say they have laid off employees and 8 percent anticipate more layoffs by Aug. 1. Fifty-eight percent will purchase fewer fixed assets this than they planned on Jan. 1.
Just 31 percent of CEOs expect the economy to return to pre-COVID-19 levels of revenue and employment within the next six months, according to the poll, while 35 percent think their business will recover within that timeframe. Twenty-five percent say they expect a recovery by the end of 2020 while 35 percent don’t think they will get back to pre-COVID levels until the end of 2021.
The vast majority of CEOs, 89 percent, predict less revenue in 2020 than initially projected and 87 percent are expecting to make less profit.
Just five percent of the CEOs polled say their business has not suffered at all.
“The results of this poll showed what many expected; businesses are hurting, especially smaller businesses and those in sectors whose operations have been most impacted by the reasonable state-imposed restrictions,” said Heather Briccetti, president & CEO of The Business Council of New York State. “The good news is, there’s real opportunity for New York state to partner with the private sector, who understands what it will require to ensure a stronger economy moving forward.”
The glum economic outlook notwithstanding, 57 percent of upstate CEOs say the primary focus should be on addressing the public health crisis first while 35 percent say the state should plan to relax restrictions on business operations by May 1.
“Despite having to lay off workers and downgrade economic projections, a majority of upstate CEOs agree with the sentiment expressed by one CEO: ‘people and health first, the economy can wait,’” said SCRI Director Don Levy.
The vast majority, 89 percent, are very or somewhat confident they will still be in business a year from now.
“The good news is that virtually all the CEOs we interviewed expect their business to survive this crisis. And 61 percent think that New York State’s ‘social distancing’ efforts, including restrictions on business operations in order to reduce the spread of the COVID-19, have been about right,” Levy said.
The federal government passed a $2 trillion stimulus package that included $350 billion earmarked to help small businesses weather the storm and help keep employees working.
According to the poll, 72 percent plan to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program while 26 percent plan to participate in the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program.
There are some 22 million people across the country unemployed. So many people tried to collect in New York the system crashed.
Half of the CEOs do not think the state will take the appropriate steps to help businesses while 46 percent think it will. More CEOs, 59 percent, think the federal government will take the appropriate steps — like offering low cost loans, delaying tax filing dates, suspending mortgage payments — to help them weather the storm.
Other findings and information include:
The COVID-19 poll was conducted April 3 through April 14 by internet interviews with 307 business leaders from across every region of upstate New York.