Aug 4, 2020

Fourth Statewide COVID-19 Business Impact Survey Reveals Gains in Inventory, Income and Employment but a Significant Decline in Business and Personal Travel

Madison, WI – Businesses responding to the fourth statewide COVID-19 Wisconsin Business Impact survey showed gains, rather than losses, on several key indicators but expressed extreme caution in their business and personal travel plans. The July survey responses also showed businesses operating in a fully open but constrained environment. 

For the first time, respondents were asked to share their perspectives on business and personal travel during the pandemic, with 65 percent of respondents eliminating all non-essential travel for the remainder of this year, and more than one-third already deciding to do the same in 2021. Personal travel has also decreased for 70 percent of respondents, confirming the losses observed across the state’s tourism industry.

“We added the travel questions because we’ve been monitoring reports from our partners at Dane County Regional Airport (MSN) and the numbers are staggering,” said MadREP President Paul Jadin. “April and May showed declines in passenger travel of more than ninety percent. MSN is vitally important to the economy of the Madison Region as we continue to navigate reopening. The availability of direct flights to and from our airport is a consideration for every national and international business that considers locating here.”

Respondents were also asked to reassess their comfort with working from home. Forty-three percent of respondents reported some level of comfort with their business’s ability to return to work from home, if needed, while a quarter of businesses reported being extremely uncomfortable to such a return. It should be noted that in the first survey, conducted in April, most businesses reported less than 50% productivity in their remote workforce.

In June 2020, responding businesses reported:
  • Inventory gains of $3.38 million
  • Income gains of $11.29 million
  • Wage and Productivity gain of $4.18 million
  • Other Financial Impacts $7.2 million 
Firms also added 249 new staff during the month.
“We started to see the early indications of economic recovery in June,” states Jeffrey Sachse, Interim Director, CCRS. “The July survey results show both the scale and fragility of that recovery. While businesses are reporting growth, more than half of the businesses responding to the survey reported continued losses or no change.”

While firms are at their most optimistic regarding their long-term viability from at any point in the survey period, with more than half reporting survivability of seven months or more, there are ongoing areas of concern. Fifty-five percent of respondents continued to apply for financial assistance last month, and 17 percent continue to expand their online profile.

The August Business Impact Survey will be sent to responding businesses and partner organizations from August 5 to 19. The COVID-19 Business Impact Survey is a partnership of the Center for Customized Research and Services, the state’s nine Regional Development Organizations, and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. The July survey received a total of 615 responses and is reported with a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.

Results can be found at

For Further Information:

Jessica Reilly