On March 8, 2023

Vermonters are more positive about the economy than U.S. overall 

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. Of the business owners who responded, 80% 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, (72% listed pandemic-related issues as their top issue), this year, 68% of respondents identified finding qualified employees, 62% said health insurance costs, and 33% said Vermont taxes were 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 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.

“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.

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

For a complete list of January 2023 survey results, visit: dh-cpa.com/press.html.

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