Caroline County Economic Development
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March 2023 Director’s Note: Business Sentiment Survey Results

This month, I want to share an article from Salisbury University on a Business Sentiment Survey results. I hope you find the information interesting. The next survey will be in June 2023.

Eastern Shore business owners and managers’ recent uncertainty about the economy remains in the short term, while confidence and optimism about long-term survival is positive.

These trends are among the findings of the latest Eastern Shore Business Sentiment Survey conducted through a partnership with Salisbury University’s Business Economic and Community Outreach Network (BEACON), SU’s Eastern Shore Regional GIS Cooperative (ESRGC), and Caroline County Economic Development.

The December 2022 results represent the fourth report released by BEACON. The first survey in the series was conducted in June 2021, with a follow-up in December 2021, and the most recent report in June 2022.

The survey included more than 50 questions, asking business leaders to weigh in on a range of topics, from general business concerns to conditions in their own industries. Respondents evaluated business conditions locally, regionally, in the state and nationwide for the coming year. They also shared views related to their specific industries and on issues from labor supply to regulations.

Results include:

The 12-month outlook for business conditions in participants’ respective counties is significantly lower than in December 2021. When asked to predict the business conditions in their counties and the Eastern Shore, 38% responded that they believe economic conditions will worsen, compared to 23% in December 2021.

Businesses are generally confident about their operation on a longer horizon, nearly 86% believe their firm will be operating locally in the next five years, with just 6% predicting business will not be operating locally five years from now.

Respondents assessed labor force issues as the most significant barrier to expanding in their sector, followed by inflation then finances and funding. The highest barrier to starting a new business in their specific sectors was finances and funding, followed by inflation and labor force issues. Continued low unemployment and the quality of labor has impacted labor issues. The Federal Reserve’s interest rate increases designed to control inflation likely contributed to financing concerns.

When asked which cost increase in the previous six months had the greatest impact on the respondents’ businesses, they noted that the increase in payroll and benefits had the highest impact. Close behind, the cost of fuel and transportation and utilities had the second and third largest impacts on local firms.

Some 83% believe household income for the average American has fallen behind the cost of living, while only 4% believe household incomes have surpassed the cost of living.

Participants believe that America’s economy is “In a Recession/Depression” (47%), while 26 believe the economy is “Stagnating,” and 26% believe the economy is “Growing Rapidly/Growing Slowly.”

Counties on the Eastern Shore will continue to conduct the survey every six months, with the data used to identify challenges facing the region, to assist in long-term planning and to guide the development of public policy.

FYI – There are opportunities to quote or bid on Caroline County work that come open all the time. The best way to discover what the county needs is to sign up for alerts for bids. Go to the website https://www.carolinemd.org/bids.aspx to see a listing of current opportunities. We list opportunities on our Facebook page and through our newsletter.

Caroline County Economic Development and Tourism is an office within Caroline County government. For updates on any future business support, please sign up for our newsletter, and follow Caroline County Economic Development on Facebook.

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