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PNC Survey Results Find Business Owners Adapting To Pandemic Changes Despite Economic Concern

Gene J. Puskar
The survey found that 57 percent of businesses made physical modifications since the pandemic reached the U.S.

Businesses are starting to recover from pandemic-related layoffs and economic activity, according to a new survey from PNC. One hundred fifty small and mid-size Pennsylvania business owners and executives responded to the survey.

Results showed that 58% of businesses that had temporary layoffs or furloughs have begun re-hiring. Eighty-seven percent of businesses noted that workforce reduction measures taken in the spring were intentionally temporary. One-quarter of businesses in the commonwealth have cut workers since the start of the pandemic and nearly one-third reduced the number of hours employees worked.

The rate of unemployment in Pennsylvania for the month of August was 10.3%, an improvement from April’s rate of 16.1% .

Nearly all respondents (98%) who applied for Paycheck Protection Program loans viewed the revenue as key to the survival of their businesses. A majority said additional government stimulus funding is important, with 42% indicating it is extremely important.

According to PNC’s chief economist Gus Faucher, the economic recovery could rely on a second stimulus bill.

“I am concerned that if we don’t get additional stimulus that the recovery could stall out," he said. "Congress does need to get its act together and provide additional stimulus so that we can see a strong economic recovery."

Congress is set to resume debate over a second economic relief bill this week.

They survey results also concluded that owners and executives are making big changes to their business operations. Eight in 10 (79%) reported that they have made adaptations to their business in response to COVID-19, including:

  • Safety changes (69%)
  • New policies and procedures (62%)
  • Physical modifications (57%)
  • Work from home policies (33%)

“Businesses have also increased their use of technology. So, for example, instead of doing person-to-person sales, they may be doing sales over the internet,” Faucher said. A third of business owners reported making product-related changes either in the way they sell or deliver their products or to the types of products and services they offer.
"Business owners have learned that the previous status quo won't work now. The majority of businesses have reconfigured their operations and for many, these changes will be permanent," Faucher said. "Their confidence may be shaken, but we know through the history of this survey that business owners are resilient and they know how to adapt to change."

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