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September 30, 2021

CBIA survey: Business leaders cite worker shortage, high taxes as top concerns

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Business leaders are more optimistic about the condition of Connecticut’s economy now than they were one year ago but still fear that numerous obstacles, including high taxes and difficulty finding workers, will likely hamper growth, according to a new survey by the Connecticut Business & Industry Association and accounting and advisory firm Marcum LLP.

The annual survey, which queries top executives about Connecticut’s economic performance, found that 39% of respondents expect the state’s economy to grow in the next 12 months, up from just 12% during pandemic-stricken 2020, while 40% think it will remain static and only 21% expect a slowdown.

COVID-19 and related lockdowns exacted a heavy toll on some sectors and reduced overall profitability among those surveyed. Still, 43% of respondents said they see their business growing this year, up from 25% last year and the highest that figure has been since 2018.

Standing in the way of that growth, however, are persistent aftershocks from the pandemic, as well as long-standing realities like the state’s high cost of doing business.

About 80% of employers report difficulty finding and retaining employees, and 35% said a lack of skilled job applicants is the main factor hampering an expansion of their business. Other factors were high business taxes (which 18% of respondents said was their most critical issue), cost of living (16%), workplace mandates and compliance costs (14%) and the overall unpredictability of legislative decision-making (11%).

Based on the survey’s results, the CBIA said, the business community’s top policy priorities appear to be state spending and pension reforms, lower taxes, workforce development and improvements to transportation infrastructure.

CBIA President and CEO Chris DePentima said that while the survey’s results show cautious optimism among the state’s employers, issues such as the labor shortage and affordability must be addressed to support Connecticut’s recovery.

“While we applaud the recent efforts made by the administration and the legislature to address workforce development, more needs to be done to get people back to work,” DePentima said.

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