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WMC Survey: Wisconsin businesses still hurting from coronavirus, government-ordered shutdown

A protester holds up a sign urging Gov. Tony Evers to let Wisconsin reopen during an early May rally at the Wisconsin Capitol. 

(The Center Square) – Businesses across most of Wisconsin reopened a month ago, but a majority of business owners say they continue to suffer from the coronavirus and the state-imposed shutdown.

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. the state’s largest business group, on Monday released results of a survey of businesses across the state. 

WMC’s Kurt Bauer says the results speak volumes.

“While 75 percent of businesses experienced a negative financial impact from COVID-19 and the state’s Safer at Home order, only 23 percent of businesses predict they will end 2020 in the red. Fifty-one percent expect to be less profitable, but still end the year with a profit; 7 percent saw no impact on their profitability and another 7 percent said they would be more profitable,” WMC’s statement said. 

The results should not be surprising. 

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate jumped from just over 3 percent in February to 14 percent in April. The jobless rate fell to 12 percent in June. 

Bauer said Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order that closed bars, restaurants, and many businesses deemed non-essential drove those numbers. 

“COVID-19 and the safer at home order clearly had a significant impact on employers and employees throughout the state,” Bauer said. “This unprecedented event flipped the Wisconsin economy on its head.”

WMC’s report says 41 percent of respondents made a temporary or permanent reduction in employees because of the coronavirus and the state’s shutdown. Forty-nine percent did not.

“Businesses large and small have been resilient, and we look forward to working with all of them as our state reopens,” Bauer added.

The WMC survey also found:

  • 38 percent of respondents said COVID-19 regulations were the top public policy concern facing Wisconsin, followed by the labor shortage (16 percent) and high taxes (9 percent)
  • 27 percent of respondents said the national economy is the top business concern facing their company, followed by COVID-19 (20 percent) and labor availability (19 percent)
  • 31 percent of businesses plan to increase their number of employees in the next six months, while 20 percent plan to decrease and 45 percent will see no change
  • 68 percent of respondents approve of the job Donald Trump is doing as president, while 20 percent disapprove
  • 10 percent of respondents approve of the job Tony Evers is doing as governor, while 79 percent disapprove
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