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Things are beginning to look up but recovery remains fragile for Wisconsin businesses responding to a University of Wisconsin Oshkosh COVID-19 economic impact study.

The voluntary survey yielded 270 responses collected Feb. 5-22 from Wisconsin businesses representing 5,000 Wisconsin employees. The margin of error is +/- 5%

Jeffrey Sachse

“The February survey confirms what we have observed over the past several months, namely that larger firms and more traditional industries are well on their way to recovery. However, labor availability remains a significant challenge,” said Jeff Sachse, interim director of UW Oshkosh’s Center for Customized Research and Services.

Responding businesses reported the following from January:

  • $2,214,388 inventory increase
  • $618,000 increased income
  • $362,884 increase wage and productivity
  • $407,163 increase in other financial activity
  • 216 new employees

“Each of the core indicators is pointing up, yet the recovery remains fragile,” Sachse said. “Much of the increase in inventory value comes from farms and manufacturers sitting on unsold product and materials, for example. Further, we are seeing businesses begin to more frequently report new business yet this is not true of every firm.”

Fifty-five percent of firms reported viability of more than 10 months.

“Improving business viability has been buoyed by recent news about increasing vaccination rates and the assumption that we will see most activities return to normal beginning this summer and by the end of the year,” Sachse said.

The survey also showed that smaller businesses in service-based industries remain at risk.

“We should expect more of these firms to survive into the summer than may have been the case at the end of last summer both due to a stronger-than-expected holiday shopping season and targeted new assistance,” Sachse said.

The next survey, which opens March 1, will explore whether companies are offering specific incentives to employees who agree to get vaccinated.

The survey is a partnership of UWO, the state’s nine Regional Development Organizations and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

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