February 15, 2018

Survey: Businesses struggle to stay stable, fill vacant posts

Oxford Performance Materiels employees use lasers to sculpt parts made from a high-performance thermoplastic technology.

Finding stability in the workforce and improving Connecticut's business outlook continued to be a challenge for companies in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to the latest survey compiled by the Connecticut Business & Industry Association.

Although 38 percent of the 121 businesses responding to the survey said their outlook had improved in the quarter that ended Dec. 31, that is an increase of only 1 percentage point from the previous quarter and lower than the 40 percent reported in the year-ago period, according to the CBIA's 2017 Fourth Quarter Economic and Credit Availability Survey.

Likewise, 54 percent of companies surveyed say their workforce will remain stable, compared to 63 percent in the third quarter and 65 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to the report.

The survey also found, however, that 28 percent of companies expect to add employees, up from 21 percent in the previous quarter and 24 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016.

CBIA economist Pete Gioia said the manufacturing sector was particularly bullish, representing 62 percent of those companies expecting to add employees.

"Manufacturers represent over half of those reporting either an improved or stable outlook," Gioia said. "That ties in with what we saw in the third quarter GDP numbers and the preliminary jobs report from last year, which showed manufacturing driving economic and job growth."

Gioia said nearly two-thirds of respondents hired at least one new employee in the 90 days prior to completing the survey.

Despite the favorable conditions for manufacturers, they are experiencing a persistent hiring shortage. Forty-eight percent of companies trying to hire couldn't fill all their open positions, he said.

"Companies want to hire more. While we heard again about unfilled manufacturing jobs, we also heard up to 80 different job titles that were yet to be filled. This only further highlights the need for increased workforce development efforts to help fill vacant jobs around the state," he said.

The full report also addresses credit availability and foreign trade. Access the report here.

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