NAU, Coconino County collaborate to measure business sentiment during COVID-19 pandemic

The W. A. Franke College of Business building on NAU campus

The second round of results from an economic indicator survey that measures the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions showed an uptick in economic activity from April, though businesses still report operating at less than half of their capacity.

Northern Arizona University’s Alliance Bank Economic Policy Institute, in conjunction with Coconino County, is administering the Economic Sentiment Survey, designed to measure business sentiment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts of local and state government pandemic restrictions on local businesses. It is the first survey of its kind to provide rolling data that is specific to northern Arizona.

The survey asks business owners to estimate how the pandemic restrictions have affected their operating capacity and revenues, either positively or negatively. The survey also asks businesses to identify the industry sector that they fall in as well as whether they have applied for the Small Business Administration Economic Disaster Loan program or the Payroll Protection Program. The survey is being sent to all respondents on a three-week schedule to measure changes in business sentiment.

“This survey is the product of careful consultation with the business task force assembled by our Coconino County leaders,” said Joseph Guzman, director of the Alliance Bank Economic Policy Institute. “I believe it will help inform business and county leaders on important decisions as we face the challenges ahead.”

This information is valuable for business owners, economists and governmental leaders, who will be able to rely on well-sourced data to provide an enhanced picture of the local economy as they consider reopening. Having timely input regarding business needs and trends directly from local business owners and managers will result in improved diagnostics and interventions, leading to a better economic recovery.

The authors are encouraging business owners to participate, as the efficacy of the data depends on how many responses they receive in each three-week cycle. While businesses in Flagstaff and Sedona have a good response rate, the authors hope to improve the rates from businesses in Williams, Winslow and other, smaller cities throughout the county.

“Coconino County knows it is imperative to our economy to continue to work with businesses and provide resource during this difficult time,” Coconino County Manager James Jayne said. “We are grateful for the partnership with Northern Arizona University and local businesses to enable us to conduct this survey.”

See the latest data at the Economic Policy Institute’s website.

May 20 data

  • 65 percent of businesses were open.
  • Open businesses are operating at 47 percent capacity and have seen a 37 percent decrease in revenue.
  • 46 percent of business have laid off or furloughed employees.
  • 57 percent of businesses have applied for aid.

April 29 data:

  • 60 percent of businesses were open.
  • Open businesses are operating at 47 percent capacity and have seen a 45 percent decrease in revenue.
  • Half of business have laid off or furloughed employees.
  • 54 percent of businesses have applied for aid.
  • 3 percent of businesses closed permanently.