More Connecticut businesses expect to increase their workforce, yet finding skilled workers remains a challenge, according to a new survey by the Connecticut Business & Industry Association.
CBIA’s 2017 Fourth Quarter Economic and Credit Availability Survey found 28 percent of companies expect to add employees, up from 21 percent in the previous quarter.
More than half (54 percent) of surveyed companies said their workforce would remain stable – compared with 63 percent in the third quarter – while 17 percent expect to downsize, unchanged from the last quarter.
Thirty-eight percent of businesses have an improved outlook for their firms, up 1 percentage point from the previous quarter.
The number of businesses with a stable outlook rose six points to 46 percent, with 16 percent expecting a downturn, down from 24 percent in the third quarter.
CBIA economist Pete Gioia said the manufacturing sector was particularly bullish, representing 62 percent of those companies expecting to add employees.
Manufacturers represent over half of those reporting either an improved or stable outlook, Gioia said.
“That ties in with what we saw in the third quarter GDP numbers and the preliminary jobs report from last year, which showed manufacturing driving economic and job growth,” he added.
Gioia said nearly two-thirds of respondents hired at least one new employee in the 90 days prior to completing the survey.
“However, while 64 percent hired someone in the past three months and 60 percent plan to hire someone in the next three months, 48 percent of those trying to hire couldn’t fill all their open positions,” he said. “Companies want to hire more. While we heard again about unfilled manufacturing jobs, we also heard up to 80 different job titles that were yet to be filled.
“This only further highlights the need for increased workforce development efforts to help fill vacant jobs around the state,” Gioia said.
In-demand jobs included truck drivers, sales staff, chemists, toolmakers, supervisors, butchers, veterinary assistants, estimators, customer service staff, welders, foremen, engineers and machinists.
The survey also showed that commercial credit availability remains strong in the state. Eighty-seven percent said credit availability was not a problem for their firms, and only 5 percent were unable to satisfy their financial needs.
The survey also found that respondents still need credit for a wide range of needs, from credit lines to fund operations to expansion of facilities, equipment, and new product development.
Most respondents (86 percent) classified the current lending climate as average, good or excellent, while the same number expected it to stay that way over the next three months.
The survey was emailed to businesses in January, with an 8.3 percent response rate and a plus or minus 9 percent margin of error.