Business conditions and the return to “normal” (hardly an objective term) are a frequent topic of discussion on the radio. The Census Bureau conduct a survey and it does break it out by state looking at business conditions relative to pre-pandemic circumstances as well as other questions.
I am pulling out some of the highlights from the survey round complete 12/26/2021. So what did I learn? About the same percentage of firms report no issues with hiring employees as those that report issues in the week prior to the survey. 40% of respondents reported delays from domestic suppliers.
40% of business reported large increases in prices paid for goods and services compared to pre-March 13, 2020 levels. 63.3% of businesses also report little or no change in demand for their products. Neither of these numbers is really great to be honest. To me the lack of increase in demand from so many, while a large number report an increase in their costs is a recipe for pressure on the bottom line.
Perhaps more concerning is that only 14.8% report a change in management practices and only 23% report a change in business strategies. Why is this a concern? COVID is a big event and is forcing changes to business strategy and practice across the country and around the world. Clearly there are some businesses that would not need to make changes, but I do not think the number is 75%. It is especially concerning when the question about hiring in the next 6 months comes up. 40.8% of businesses expect to identify and hire new employees in the next 6 months. The simple issue of finding them aside if it is a workers market, and for the most part it appears that way, how do you expect to attract workers when you are not changing anything in the midst of a pandemic when news and business news provide daily features about changes in business practices around the world? In addition just under one-third of businesses responding say they estimate more than six months before they will return to their normal level of business operations.
Clearly there are a great many businesses not feeling a particular pinch at this time from the COVID pandemic, at least according to these survey responses. However there is a significant percentage encountering issues that could eventually present larger concerns. Obviously it would be nice to know the industry of the respondents to understand if there are reasons for a lack of change but that this not possible at this time.