POLL: Business Confidence Plummets In New York State

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ALBANY, NY (WAMC) – Due to the pandemic, business confidence has hit the floor in New York State. Here’s a look at the latest Siena College poll of upstate business leaders.

With the coronavirus pandemic halting daily life, reopening New York presents many challenges. The Siena College Research Institute interviewed 307 business leaders from the Capital Region, Central New York, the Finger Lakes, the Mohawk Valley/Southern Tier and Western New York. Siena’s Don Levy says COVID-19 is having a dramatic impact.

“Only about a third believe that we will recover the pre-virus levels within six months. In fact, 35%-40% believe that we won’t have a recovery to where we were before the virus hits until into a well into 2021,” Levy said. “Still a majority, 57%, say right now the government of the state of New York should concentrate on public health and not on trying to reopen the economy.”

Levy noted those 35% of respondents who favor reopening are involved in the fields of manufacturing, engineering and construction.

Levy says 61% say current policy on social distancing is “about right.”

“How is the virus affecting them? Dramatically!” Levy said. “87% say that they expect their revenues this year to be down from what they thought they would be just a couple months ago. A similar number on profits, nearly 90%. 58% say that their plans for purchasing fixed assets are down this year”

Levy said 40% of businesses have already laid off employees and 77% have workers working from home.

“Still there is some level of confidence,” he said. “89% of the CEO’s we talked to said ‘one way or another, I’m going to be in business a year from today.”

The survey shows 59% are confident that the federal government will take the appropriate steps to help businesses recover. Nearly three-quarters, 72%, say they’ll participate in the SBA Paycheck Protection Program while 26% plan to participate in the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program.

“What else are they looking for? They believe that low-cost loans, delaying tax filings, funding employee leave, are always of the government can help them operate,” Levy said. “There certainly are many CEOs here upstate who want to press the governor and say ‘upstate and downstate are different areas.’ It’s time to have not a one-size-fit-all, but perhaps to consider opening, gradual openings, relaxing restrictions moreso upstate than perhaps in New York City.”

The Business Council of New York State commented on the survey, saying in part: “Perhaps the most encouraging result showed employers expect their own companies and their industry sectors to recovery by early 2021.”