2021 Business Outlook Survey Report
Despite concern over the continued and lasting impact of COVID-19, there is cautious optimism that business conditions will improve in the months ahead, according to the results of McDonald Hopkins’ 11th annual Business Outlook Survey.
Seventy percent of the respondents to the survey expect business conditions in the U.S. to improve in 2021, and 73% expect conditions at their own organizations to improve. Comments received make it clear that much of this optimism hinges on the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine and a subsequent "return to normal," but, overall, executives appear ready to put the pandemic behind them and get back to business.
Although the survey did not directly address last year's election, the responses provided a mix of hope and concern at the recent change in administration and its expected policies. Responses to other questions reflected those feelings and beliefs, with varied opinions on the government's effort and spending so far to help restart the economy.
Sixty-four percent of respondents to the survey believe Congress should provide additional economic stimulus. When asked what form that economic stimulus should take, 36% believe Congress should fund additional PPP loans, 26% believe there should be direct payments to individuals, and 18% believe the economic stimulus should come in the form of unemployment benefits.
Not surprisingly, data privacy and cybersecurity also continue to be top of mind for businesses, with 87% of the respondents citing concern about threats to their organizations.
Fifty-two percent plan to increase their number of employees in 2021, down from 56% last year. And for the first time in eight years, the majority of business owners indicated they do not plan to invest in capital assets or have not yet decided if they will.
The 2021 Business Outlook Survey was conducted from Jan. 6, 2021 through Feb. 1, 2021.