Despite some experts indicating that the outlook for the U.S. economy is more favorable for the rest of 2020, less than one in four lenders expect their loan portfolios to improve from a risk rating perspective. That’s according to results from the third quarter Phoenix Management Lending Climate in America survey.

Nearly half (44%) of lenders surveyed expect their loan portfolios to stabilize in the fourth quarter, compared with the third quarter, whereas just under a third (32%) expect that their loan portfolios will decline. 

The survey also revealed that most lenders (48%) believe the coronavirus will be the most important 2020 election issue, whereas 44% said fiscal policy will take the top spot. 

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of lenders said companies likely will continue to operate at post-COVID-19 headcount levels until a vaccine is widely available. Another 36% of lenders believe companies will continue migrating toward pre-COVID headcount levels.

“There was a significant drop in the diffusion index for unemployment (down 36%) this quarter from the second quarter’s results of 26%,” said Michael Jacoby, senior managing director at Phoenix. “For many Americans furloughed and laid off, a vaccine cannot come soon enough.”