Vermonters more positive about economy than US overall 

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Vermonters more positive about economy than US overall 

Tue, 02/28/2023 - 10:39am -- tim
2023 Vermont Small Businesses Economic Survey Results Released

Vermont Business Magazine Over 100 Vermont businesses from diverse industries completed the 2023 annual economic survey in January regarding the outlook of Vermont’s small- to medium-sized businesses. 80% of the business owners who responded have fewer than 25 employees. The survey, presented by Davis and Hodgdon CPAs and the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, revealed that there is more optimism in business owners’ attitudes about the Vermont economy than there is optimism for the U.S. economy. Also noteworthy is that most business owners are optimistic about their operations and profitability in 2023 and many have made significant adjustments to their business models to adapt to post-pandemic life.

Owners were once again asked to identify the top three issues facing their business in 2023. In contrast to the issues identified in 2022, which had pandemic-related issues (72%) as their top issue, respondents identified finding qualified employees (68%), health insurance costs (62%), and Vermont taxes (33%) as their top three issues. Pandemic-related challenges fell to 22% in 2023.

New in 2023, respondents were asked to identify the changes made to their business model to adjust to post-pandemic circumstances. Not surprisingly, nearly half (49%) have adopted more digital solutions for operations and sales, while 44% have redesigned their operations and supply chains to protect against a wider range of potential disruptions. Several (39%) have also embraced a more remote office environment, while some (36%) have identified new avenues of revenue to adjust to post-pandemic reality.

“It’s encouraging to see that despite ongoing challenges and skepticism of the economy, Vermont businesses look forward to an increase in sales and spending this year,” said Bret Hodgdon, managing partner of Davis & Hodgdon Associates. “These responses suggest a positive outlook for Vermont business owners who have made the necessary adjustments to their businesses in order to succeed in the post-pandemic environment.”

In addition, just over half (51%) expect their business’ sales to increase in 2023, while 45% expect to increase spending, and 41% plan to hire additional staff.

The following graph illustrates attitudes about the Vermont economy since January 2016. Attitudes have not changed very much since the 2022 results in that 24% of respondents feel that the economy is improving which was the same percentage in 2022. Additionally, 36% of respondents feel that the economy is in decline compared to 34% in January 2022.

The following graph illustrates attitudes about the U.S. economy since January 2016.  Interestingly, those surveyed have more optimism for the Vermont economy than they have for the U.S. economy in 2023. More than half (55%) feel that the U.S. economy is in decline in contrast to the 36% who feel the same way about the Vermont economy.

“Businesses make living, working, and thriving in Vermont possible, but workforce shortages remain a top concern,” stated Betsy Bishop, President of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce. “To ensure a viable future for our state, this data further demonstrates that Vermont must prioritize addressing the issues that are exacerbating recruitment and retention challenges, while also centering economic stewardship.”

Each year respondents are asked to identify one key business economic issue that they want to see addressed by the state legislature in the current year. Vermont business owners feel the legislature has not adequately addressed taxes and once again feel this is the top issue they face. Affordable housing and healthcare, over regulation, and the cost of doing business are also top concerns for business owners.

About the Survey

The non-scientific survey, customized by Davis & Hodgdon to evaluate small- to medium-sized businesses, was completed by 111 businesses located throughout the state.

All results below.

January 2023 survey results:

January 2022 survey results:

January 2021 survey results:

January 2020 survey results:

January 2019 survey results:

January 2018 survey results:

January 2017 survey results:

January 2016 survey results:

About Davis & Hodgdon

Davis & Hodgdon CPAs is a full-service public accounting firm with the unique ability to offer tax planning, financial and investment planning, and client accounting services under the umbrella of and as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Davis & Hodgdon Advisory Group, a business and financial services firm with locations in Williston and Rutland Vermont. The firm serves its clients by providing progressive, proactive services through expert staff, high-end technology, and unparalleled efficiency.

About the Vermont Chamber of Commerce

The largest statewide, private, not-for-profit business organization, the Vermont Chamber of Commerce represents every sector of the state’s business community focusing its work on advancing Vermont’s economy.

Williston, Vt., February 27, 2023 – Davis & Hodgdon