COVID-19 IMPACT: CHALLENGES, NEEDS AND EXPECTATIONS OF COMPANIES IN NORTH MACEDONIA
Almost a year since the beginning of the crisis caused by COVID-19 in North Macedonia, and the future is still uncertain. Although various vaccines raise some optimism, concerns include mutations in the virus and new information from the World Health Organization on the persistence of the virus in 2021. This report is part of the joint efforts of the Organization of Employers of Macedonia (ORM) and the Business Confederation of Macedonia (BKM) to gather evidence on how the crisis affects business operations and sustainability and to influence the Government’s new economic measures to support corporate needs. .
The pandemic negatively affected the overall economic activity in North Macedonia, where the average GDP growth was 5.3 percent in the first three quarters of 2020. According to the data from the Labor Force Survey, the labor market has shown some resilience. The employment rate in the third quarter (Q3) was 54.1 percent, while in the first quarter of 2020 there was a decline in employment on an annual basis (0.7 percentage points lower than in Q3 in 2019). 13,700 jobs were lost during that period, representing 1.8 percent of the total jobs. The unemployment rate decreased during 2020, reaching 16.5 percent in T3, which is 0.6 percentage points lower than the previous year. In a recent interview, the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of economic affairs said that the government had saved about 80,000 jobs through crisis economic stimulus measures.
Recently, two reports prepared with the support of the ILO were published in North Macedonia. The COVID-19 Pandemic Impact Report on Enterprises in North Macedonia presents the results of the first enterprise survey and makes recommendations to policy makers, while the ILO Rapid Assessment assesses the impact of the pandemic on jobs and policy responses.
With the technical support of the ILO, the second phase of the company survey was conducted in North Macedonia from October to December 2020. The survey was conducted in electronic form through several channels, while the survey questionnaire was similar to the questionnaire used in the first phase in April-May 2020, to allow some comparison. The purpose of the survey was not to be representative in a purely statistical sense, but its purpose was to gather as many answers as possible.
More detailed demographic data can be found in the Appendix. Most of the surveyed enterprises were small (35 percent) or micro enterprises (32 percent). Most of the surveyed enterprises (30 percent) are from the manufacturing industry, 15 percent are engaged in other service activities, and 12 percent are engaged in wholesale and retail trade. The survey was completed by about 246 companies.
The second phase of the survey is shorter and the questions are better adapted to study the current economic situation and the pandemic situation. It also provides richer data from a gender perspective and from a telecommuting perspective. The second phase of the survey measures companies’ perceptions of their business continuity, financial condition, workforce status, effectiveness of current government support measures, and business thinking. Survey responses were used to define feasible recommendations according to the needs of companies.