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January 18, 2021

The COVID Economy: Businesses Are Uncertain And Manufacturers Are Having Trouble Finding Workers

The U.S. and Canadian governments both have provided billions of dollars in relief to businesses struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. How are these companies feeling about the future, as a result?

Reuters reported last week that the Bank of Canada has found that, while half of businesses say their current sales are below pre-pandemic levels, most expect sales to increase in the next 12 months. One-third of businesses, mostly those in the services sector, do not expect sales to return to pre-pandemic levels within the next year.

In the United States, meanwhile, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey of business leaders found 51 percent believe their company is doing slightly or much worse than pre-pandemic; 41 percent think their firm is doing slightly or much better than pre-pandemic; and eight percent think their company is doing about the same as they were pre-pandemic. Click here to read the full report.

Last week, The Wall Street Journal said one of the top issues on manufacturing leaders’ minds is how to find qualified workers for the jobs they have available. The article, which is available here, noted “health-related absenteeism among full-time U.S. production workers has been higher than for the overall workforce for most of the pandemic, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.”

According to the a U.S. Department of Labor report released last week, there were 6.5 million jobs unfilled at the end of November, including 498,000 manufacturing jobs. The number of unfilled positions in the manufacturing sector was down from an all-time high of 531,000 in October.