SALEM — The Employer Associations of America recently released its 2020 National Business Trends Survey. This national survey shares information on what executives are doing to address the changing business climate, and executives surveyed this year indicate that they are feeling a little less optimistic. The majority of respondents (52%) felt the economy in the next 12 months would stay the same, with only 12% feeling the economy would improve, and 36% feeling that the economy will decline.

Compared to 2019 survey results, the numbers have flipped in two areas. Last year, respondents felt more confident that the economy would improve (30%) and only% percent felt there would be a decline.

“Given the feelings about the economy in the next 12 months, it seems that organizations are taking a more cautious approach to 2020,” EAA Board of Directors Chair Mary E. Corrado said. “Despite reduced confidence in the economy, 49% of organizations surveyed still expect a slight increase in revenue for the coming year. The talent shortage will remain a key factor in 2020. Employers will need to implement innovative talent acquisition and retention strategies to meet their business results.”

When asked on the survey what the top challenges to their business in 2020 are, executives indicated:

Talent acquisition

Talent retention

Ability to pay competitive wages/salaries

Competition in general

Ability to pay for benefit costs

A number of the Business Trends survey questions focused on hiring and staffing practices. The amount of permanent staff planned to be hired in 2020 is down slightly to 47% as compared to 2019, in which 54% planned to hire permanent employees. Respondents did indicate 65% were hiring in part due to newly created jobs. The majority (83%) seem to be replacing employees due in part to voluntary turnover. The increase in voluntary turnover makes talent acquisition more difficult and employers will need to offer more competitive wages and be more strategic when marketing for positions.

In moving forward with their hiring practices, organizations said the top five most important factors prospective employees are looking for in 2020 are fairly similar to last year’s results:

Competitive pay 81%

Good work/life balance 69%

Opportunities for advancement 56%

Flexibility in work hours 56%

Competitive health benefits 48%

The top three reasons why it has become more difficult to hire employees in their industries are a lack of qualified candidates (66%), market competition/high demand (48%) and candidates want more pay than the business can/will offer (43%).

With the national spotlight on pay equity, a few additional responses were added to the question, “How is your organization minimizing risk and ensuring compliance with federal, state, and local laws?” The top three responses were conducting internal pay audits (38%), establishing/updating a formal compensation structure (35%) and conducting external compensation analyses to compare internal positions with the external market (29%).

In addition, the EAA 2020 National Business Trends Survey breaks out results on a local level. In the Oregon region, respondents identified talent retention (45 percent), talent acquisition (44 percent) and competition in general (36 percent) to be the top three greatest challenges to businesses in 2020.

“At Cascade Employers Association, we understand the complex business environment and how that can impact strategies and tactics in the workplace, especially when it comes to attracting, engaging and retaining top talent,” Jenna Reed, Vice President of HR Services and General Counsel, said. “We’ve certainly experienced an increase in requests for support developing compensation philosophy and structures, assessing employee engagement and consulting on approaches to talent acquisition.”

The EAA is a not-for-profit national association that provides this annual survey to business executives offering insights and trends for business outlooks, business investment plans, staffing levels, hiring plans, job creations, pay strategies and business challenges. The 2020 survey included 1,093 participating organizations throughout the U.S. For a copy of the full report, contact McKenna Arnold, Cascade Employers Association, at To learn more about the EAA, visit

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