May 18, 2020
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AWB Survey: Supply chain disruptions on the rise as Washington turns attention to a safe restart

As disruption of the global supply chain is making headlines, businesses in Washington state reporting supply chain disruptions is up five percentage points from two weeks ago, according to a recent AWB member survey. Manufacturing continues to see higher rates of supply chain disruption. Manufacturers in Washington reporting issues has ticked up one percentage point in the last two weeks, to 59%. This is up from 53% in mid-March.

Over 600 employers participated in last week’s survey. The ongoing campaign started in March and is tracking how Washington companies are responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

The overall response from Washington manufacturers has been strong. The new survey shows that 13% of manufacturers who responded have already retooled their operations to produce an essential product. An additional 27% indicated they are interested, or may be interested, in pivoting their operations to produce an essential product like personal protective equipment.

Nearly all Washington employers have been touched by the coronavirus in some way that has negatively impacted their business, with over 80% of businesses reporting reduced revenue. Just over one-third of Washington businesses have closed temporarily.

Approximately 60% of businesses in the state have applied for some kind of financial assistance to keep operations running, but interest in access to financial support is waning. Government programs like the Paycheck Protection Program are running out of available funds and employers are now turning attention to the eventual reopening of the state economy.

Understanding how COVID-19-related rules and mandates impact businesses, and hearing from elected officials are two categories that are still holding interest. 53% of respondents say “help understanding how local, state or federal mandates impact my business operations” was most relevant to their business in response to the coronavirus.

Access to PPE and information (instructions, clarity or protocols) from government agencies are the two highest-rated resources that small businesses will need in the next two weeks in order to remain responsive to the pandemic.

Washington employers continue to have a positive outlook. Ongoing responses indicate that of the businesses to close due to the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, 35% report the ability to be back up and running in a month or less.

Only 3% of employers who were forced to implement layoffs or furloughs report laying off all staff. For employers facing layoffs, 80% report being able to keep at least half of their staff on payroll. And over half of employers (53%) expect to bring back all staff once they can reopen. The number of businesses reporting plans to increase staff in the next 30 days has continued to creep up, from 3% a month ago to 10% on May 11.

Employers continue to report their “highest concern” is for employee health (35%), above the concern for running out of cash (22%), and followed by lack of demand for their product or service (21%); their “least concern” reported was employees not returning to work (31%).

Latest findings indicate the type of position hit by layoffs the most is regular hourly (84%), followed by administrative (38%), and professional (24%).

In other business survey data, The Seattle Times reports on the first in a planned series of weekly U.S. Census surveys on the impact of the pandemic on small businesses.

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Be Patient

Cut restaurants some slack when they reopen. They've got new rules to follow

By The Tri-City Herald Editorial Board

Restaurant owners have always relied on loyal and contented customers to keep their businesses afloat. In the coming weeks, they will need that customer support more than ever.

Phase 2 of the state's Safe Start reopening plan is scheduled for June 1, which would allow restaurants to open under strict social distancing guidelines.

The restaurant business has been hit especially hard by the state's stay-home order, and being allowed to open up seats in the dining room instead of providing only take-out service will be a much needed economic boost for most establishments...

Everyone will have to do their part during the transition or COVID-19 cases in the area might explode.

Specifically, that means following the rules and cutting restaurant workers some slack as they figure out how to navigate under new state-imposed requirements for their business...

Read the full editorial in The Tri-City Herald