The incoming Biden-Harris administration should make a new pandemic stimulus package one of its top priorities, according to the latest CEO Survey from Hofstra University’s Frank G. Zarb School of Business and New York-based IPA 100 firm Marcum LLP (FY19 net revenue of $625.3 million).
More than two-thirds (67.6%) of the 250 company leaders nationwide surveyed saw the passage of a new federal COVID-19 stimulus package as one of the three most important government policy initiatives for the new administration, with nearly half (45.6%) selecting it as the top initiative. In addition to stimulus packages, respondents cited assistance programs targeting small and medium-sized businesses in the form of expanded access to capital (47.6%) and supportive federal procurement policies (46.4%) as other top government priorities.
As the pandemic intensifies, 82.4% of CEOs in the survey are currently taking precautions for the possibility of another lockdown and 64% say that such a lockdown will affect the way they operate. Meanwhile, 58.4% said COVID-19 would continue to be an issue for American businesses over the coming year.
That view of the ongoing pandemic is impacting CEOs’ feelings about the economy heading into 2021, with less than one percent of respondents rating their outlook for the coming year as very positive (“10” on a 1-10 scale) – a significant decline from prior Marcum-Hofstra surveys, which showed 4.2% in the summer of 2020 and 13.3% did in the spring of 2020. The current survey found 5% of CEOs rated their outlook as “8” or higher (a decline from 10.7% in the previous survey), and slightly more than a third of CEOs (34.8%) selected a rating in the positive range of “5” or higher, down from 43.6%.
In fact, economic concerns outweigh other key influences for business planning in the next 12 months, with 30% of CEOs saying these were their greatest influence and two-thirds ranking it one of their top three influences. Following economic concerns, technology (39%), the availability of talent (35%) and access to capital (32%) were most cited as one of the top three influences on business planning over the next 12 months.
“Middle-market CEOs are clear about their need for additional economic relief to withstand the impact of COVID,” says Marcum chairman and CEO Jeffrey Weiner. “They have deep concerns about the immediate future, and optimism has continued to trend downward. The resilience of mid-market companies – the backbone of our economy – is being tested, and time will tell whether the next administration is able to help right the course for U.S. businesses.”
The complete Marcum-Hofstra CEO Survey, as well as an archive of prior surveys, is available at marcumhofstraceosurvey.com.