Nearly one-third of U.S. business economists expect operations at their companies will return to normal within five to eight weeks, though almost as many say it’s likely to be three to six months before coronavirus-mitigation efforts wind down in earnest.
A survey by the National Association for Business Economics showed respondents in the construction and manufacturing industries were more upbeat about the time line than their counterparts in services. Some 36% of goods producers expect normal business conditions within five to six weeks, while nearly half of service providers anticipate it will take three to six months or even longer, according to the breakdown of 105 responses.
The NABE survey, conducted April 13-16, also showed 86% expect the economy to contract through the first quarter of 2021, with 70% projecting gross domestic product to drop at least 2%. The 14% share anticipating the economy will grow through the first three months of next year includes 8% that expect expansion of no more than 1%.
“Respondents report that last quarter was the worst since the global financial crisis for sales, profit margins, prices, and capital spending,” Megan Greene, chair of the NABE Business Conditions Survey, said in a statement. “A third of respondents say their firms’ operations have been ‘severely impacted,’ including a few firms that have had a ‘full suspension of operations.’”
On a brighter note, three-quarters of survey respondents said they expect their companies can “stay afloat” for longer than six months without government assistance, she said.
For the first time since the 2007-2009 recession, more respondents reported declining sales than stronger receipts in the previous three months. NABE’s net rising index for sales plunged 28 points to minus 13.