Nearly half of Alabama businesses are anticipating an improved business climate in the next six months despite the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, a survey found.
The survey conducted by AlabamaWorks! and the Alabama Workforce Council revealed Alabama businesses are struggling with laying off employees, a lack of market demand, disruptions in the supply chain and a fear of being forced to permanently close.
The survey was conducted in April, before most businesses were allowed to at least partially reopen. Nearly 1,800 businesses responded to the survey, with the vast majority (68%) being small businesses with 25 or less employees. The largest swath (41%) said three-quarters or more of their employees are paid by the hour.
“We are grateful to the business owners who took the time to help us identify critical needs and priorities for a full workforce recovery,” said Tim McCartney, chairman of the Alabama Workforce Council. “Utilizing the survey results, the Alabama Workforce Council will continue with our important work of assisting the state to the fullest extent possible with all workforce recovery efforts and continue to push career pathways and programs that are most resilient to create a more agile workforce.”
Not surprisingly, 82% expect this pandemic to have a negative financial impact on their business. A third of respondents have laid off employees as a result and 53% have implemented a hiring freeze.
One important finding for AlabamaWorks! and the Workforce Council going forward was the 53% who expressed a need for more employer-delivered, skills-based training to help in the recovery.
Other findings included:
- 53.4% of businesses reported that their current business climate is “bad,” but 49.6% expected their climate to improve in the next six months.
- 49.4% of businesses expect that their workforce size will remain relatively constant over the next three months.
- 35.9% of businesses reported that the biggest factor limiting business activity is a lack of market demand, making it the most common limiting factor.
- 46.3% of businesses felt at least somewhat equipped to handle the COVID-19 pandemic at its outbreak, indicating that most responding businesses felt inadequately prepared to some degree.
- More businesses (46%) are facing supply chain disruptions than not (39%).