UW-Oshkosh survey of Wisconsin businesses shows 35% say they’ll be forced to close if pandemic conditions persist


OSHKOSH, Wis. (WFRV) – The results of a statewide survey by the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh show 35 percent of responding businesses say they will be forced to close if current coronavirus-related conditions persist for more than three months.

According to UWO, results also showed 8,795 jobs lost in the earliest days of Wisconsin’s Safer at Home order, along with losses of $95 million in inventory, $126 million in income, $26.6 million in lost wages and productivity income and nearly $404 million in other impacts.

The survey yielded nearly 2,550 responses from companies in 63 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties from April 1-10, according to Jeffrey Sachse, director of UWO’s Center for Customized Research and Services (CCRS).

“The conditions reported here represent companies’ efforts to adapt to changing conditions,” Sachse said. “These impacts are certain to rise when we revisit these companies in a month, two months and six months’ time. The assistance that these companies require and the effects felt throughout the state’s economy are both unprecedented and continuous.”

UWO is partnering on the survey project with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation as well as New North and eight additional Regional Leadership Council organizations to assess coronavirus recovery ability and state and federal aid efforts. Additional cooperators include the Wisconsin Technology Council and the Wisconsin Workforce Development Association.

The business, ranging from small sole-proprietorships to large firms like Kobussen Buses and UW Health, were still trying to adapt to changes implemented in the Safer at Home order at the time of this survey.

UWO says 40 percent of responding firms indicated not being able to report specific impacts at the time, making the results understated.

The findings only point to greater effects as the worldwide health crisis persists, Sachse said.

He adds the firms reported using a variety of approaches, including delaying payments and reducing inventories, as means of minimizing the impact of the crisis.

“Responding firms suggested that their greatest immediate needs are access to greater liquidity in the form of low-interest loans, grants, and access to customers. This closely mimics trends reflected in the national policy debate and recent surveys reported by the Federal Reserve Board and Small Business Administration,” Sachse said.

Firms reported seeing a sharp reduction in productivity due to a shift to working from home, with most reporting a 25-50 percent decrease. This also tracks with national trends and reflects the difficulty that many traditional firms face in adapting to the rapidly changing conditions, he said.

The survey is the first in a series that will track the economic impact of the coronavirus, according to UWO. Responding companies will be surveyed again during the first months of May, June, July, and for the foreseeable future, with results released during the third week of each month.

Companies are invited to continue to respond to the initial survey at http://uwo.sh/covid-19-econ-disruption and be added to the survey group.

In addition, CCRS has released an interactive dashboard detailing survey responses along with advice and insights from University faculty at http://uwosh.edu/ccrs/covid-19-survey.


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