That was the sobering bottom line of a the latest survey by the National Association for Business Economics (NABE).
The NABE survey also found that, of the 108 businesses that responded to the poll, more fired than hired workers in the July-September period. That led to another decline in an employment index that has been dropping since the beginning of 2000.
Respondents said the trend should continue over the near short term with businesses expected to trim their payrolls over the next six months rather than add to them.
Businesses responding to the NABE survey also had shorter shopping lists in the third quarter for a sixth straight quarter. That is the longest string of declines in capital spending in the survey’s 20-year history.
Many of the businesses also said they had trimmed their forecasts for economic growth in the second half of the year.
The NABE report was not wholly without silver linings, however. More firms saw demand rise in the third quarter than had in the second, while fewer reported that demand had softened.