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Uncertainty grows for Wisconsin business leaders as they expect another 12 to 18 months of impact from the COVID-19 virus and hold little hope for further government assistance.

Results of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s October COVID-19 business and economic impact survey also reveal a rekindled concern regarding long-term viability, said Jeffrey Sachse, interim director of UWO’s Center for Customized Research and Services (CCRS).

Jeffrey Sachse

“The latest survey indicates 8.8% of responding businesses estimate viability of no more than three months,” he said. “The decrease in business confidence is again largely a function of the uncertainty that has defined economic activity under the pandemic. As the state and its communities continue to tackle the challenge of the pandemic in different ways, we should expect to continue to see similar levels of uncertainty.”

The 422 responding Wisconsin business owners (representing 19,700 employees) report the following changes in the past month:  $1.4 million in income losses, $218,000 in inventory losses, $838,000 in lost wages and productivity, 1,907 lost positions, and $3.2 million in other financial gains

The October results continue to show the renewed downward trend observed last month with some exception, Sachse said. Businesses continue to report other financial gains generally associated with future activity, suggesting that they may be exchanging current revenue for future revenue.

Sachse added that 42% of respondents believe that they will be dealing with the pandemic for at least the next year, with 14% suggesting the impact will continue through 2022 and beyond.

Similarly, business respondents believe that the state’s economy will begin to recover in the latter half of next year with 34% suggesting the economy may recover to pre-pandemic levels in the second half of 2021 and 31% seeing recovery in 2022.

“The October survey again confirms our assertion that the impacts of COVID-19 on the state’s economy are both lengthy and varied,” Sachse said. “We will continue to explore the sources of the uncertainty expressed in recent results to better understand the potential impacts of future policy as we survey businesses through the end of this year.”

Survey results are voluntary and reported at a plus-minus 5% confidence interval. The next survey begins Nov. 2.

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