Panel dataset of microenterprises in the province of Trento
Microenterprises play an important role in the Italian economy, both regionally and nationally, as they account for the vast majority of Italian enterprises: 93.3 per cent and 94.5 per cent of total enterprises in Trentino and Italy, respectively. By the same token, these businesses employ 46.2% of the total number of employees in Trentino and 47.9% in Italy. Nevertheless, only a few surveys describe such a population in detail.
To fill this gap, FBK-IRVAPP and the Statistical Office of the Province of Trento have established a longitudinal survey on microenterprises in Trentino. The survey is representative of the total population of microenterprises and was conducted for the first time in 2010, repeated in 2011 and, since then, has been carried out every two years. The sample is stratified by sector, employees and firm age and consists, on average, of 2000 units with a response rate ranging from 75 to 85 per cent depending on the wave.
The data covers a wide range of areas of interest, such as employees, investments, operating costs, enterprises’ financial situation, the market of reference and competition, public subsidies, expectations and economic growth, relationships with third subjects, risk aversion, and ICTs adoption. In addition, the survey also includes some questions on the entrepreneur’s history (age, education, previous experiences, ownership of the firm, and motivations for being an entrepreneur).
Some topics remain constant throughout the waves, but there are special issues that are wave-specific. For example, in 2021, part of the survey focused on strategies undertaken by microenterprises to cope with the economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and the take-up of public policy measures.
Panel 2021 (Year 2020) – The Impact of Covid-19 on Micro-Enterprises in Trentino
The Covid-19 pandemic severely impacted micro-enterprises in Trentino and Bolzano due to the high prevalence of tourism-related activities, which were particularly affected by travel restrictions and other pandemic containment measures. As a result, between June and October 2020, 59% of enterprises in Trentino experienced a decrease in turnover, with 10% facing a reduction of more than 50%. Only 23% of enterprises reported no significant impact, while 18% managed to increase turnover.
The prolonged phase of the pandemic has produced a set of adverse effects on business activity. In the summer of 2020, the major concern (44.5% of Trentino companies) was related to the reduction in demand both in foreign and domestic markets. One year later (June-October 2021), the most relevant issue has shifted to the workforce: finding suitable professional figures and their training (38.5% of Trentino companies compared to 28.9% of national companies). On the other hand, the problems related to liquidity have been reduced, also thanks to public support measures.
Adverse effects caused by disrupted global value chains during the first pandemic phase continue to haunt enterprises, with more than 21% reporting uncertainty, especially in the industrial sector. In contrast, bottlenecks related to sourcing production inputs concern 27.5% of entrepreneurs at the national level.
The use of unemployment benefits and comparable tools decreased gradually from 33.1% in the summer of 2020 to 19.1% after a year of pandemic recovery. Likewise, personnel cost-cutting measures such as reducing working hours (20.9%) and not renewing fixed-term contracts (15.4%) also decreased significantly.
Overall, the Covid-19 pandemic posed a significant challenge to Trentino’s micro-enterprises, particularly those dependent on tourism. They will need further support to enhance their resilience and adaptability in overcoming ongoing issues related to workforce, production inputs and value chain disruptions.