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Coronavirus toll on Upstate NY companies: 40 percent lay off workers

Syracuse.com logo Syracuse.com 4/16/2020 By Mark Weiner, syracuse.com
a view of a beach: Parking lots at Destiny USA in Syracuse are empty after the mall's closure because of the coronavirus pandemic. About 5,000 people worked at the mall. N © N. Scott Trimble | strimble@syracuse.com/N. Scott Trimble | strimble@syracuse.com/syracuse.com/TNS Parking lots at Destiny USA in Syracuse are empty after the mall's closure because of the coronavirus pandemic. About 5,000 people worked at the mall. N

About 40 percent of Upstate New York business leaders say they’ve had to lay off employees during the coronavirus pandemic, and an additional 8 percent anticipate more layoffs by Aug. 1, according to a new survey by Siena College.

The survey of chief executive officers found that most expect it will take longer than six months for New York’s economy to recover from the steep economic decline caused by the pandemic.

Only 35 percent of Upstate CEOs expect the state’s economy to return to pre-virus levels of revenue and employment within the next six months, the survey found.

Despite the economic setbacks, business leaders agreed (57 to 35 percent) that New York government leaders should continue to focus on public health and not relax restrictions on business operations on May 1.

The survey found widespread disruptions to business across Upstate New York.

“This virus has turned life upside down for virtually every New York business, just as it has for nearly every New Yorker,” said Don Levy, director of the Siena College Research Institute.

“Almost every CEO took steps to protect staff and clients from the virus, more than three-quarters have employees working from home, two-thirds have canceled planned initiatives and almost half have borrowed in order to meet ongoing expenses,” Levy said.

The survey also found strong optimism that Upstate New York companies will make it through the pandemic and that business will return to normal. About 89 percent of CEOs said they expect to be in business a year from today.

“The good news is that virtually all the CEOs we interviewed expect their business to survive this crisis,” Levy said.

About 61 percent of executives agree with New York’s social distancing restrictions that forced many businesses to close their offices and manufacturing plants.

Those closings and other disruptions to business convinced almost 90 percent of the CEOs to downgrade their revenue and profit expectations for the year. About 58 percent of Upstate businesses have also cut back on buying equipment, the survey found.

More than 59 percent of business leaders say they are confident the federal government will take the appropriate steps to assist business recovery.

About 72 percent of Upstate CEOs say they plan to participate in the U.S Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, a $349 billion program which offers forgivable loans to companies that keep employees on the payroll through the pandemic.

Siena’s survey of 307 business leaders across Upstate New York was conducted April 3 through April 14. The Business Council and New York State and Center State CEO, a Syracuse-based economic development organization, were among a coalition of groups that commissioned the poll.

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