Poll: 90% Small Businesses Report ‘Devastating Impact’ of Shutdown, Federal Aid Faltering

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 21: A general view of atmosphere is seen during American Express and Small Business Owners in a Toast to 10 Years of Small Business Saturday with Karlie Kloss November 21, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for American Express)
Brian Ach/Getty Images for American Express

A vast majority of small businesses across America are suffering the “devastating impact” of the shutdown of much of the U.S. economy in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, a poll revealed.

Small Business Majority released the findings on Tuesday based on a survey of 500 small businesses nationwide that found nine out of ten businesses have been hurt by the health emergency, with 43 percent saying it has had a “severe negative impact.”

The article about the poll on the small business advocacy organization’s website said:

It’s no secret that the spread of COVID-19 around the country has already had a devastating impact on small businesses. With the economy on pause and uncertainty gripping communities across the country, Main Street has been left to cope with how to stay afloat during this unprecedented time.

While Congress allocated $350 billion in small business lending in the CARES Act stimulus package, and small businesses have been eager for these loans to get them the assistance they so desperately need, daily reports from small business owners reveal the emergency lending programs currently in place are utterly broken and will not prevent businesses from closing for good.

The poll found also found that 41 percent of small business owners have experienced a revenue decrease of 50 percent or more, 33 percent of small businesses have closed down, and 14 percent more said they planned to do so.

The press release announcing the poll results said:

One of the most alarming figures arose from reported layoffs. Of those employers who have laid off staff, 40 percent report that the layoffs were permanent and 1 in 3 businesses have laid off, furloughed or made reductions to their entire workforce.

While the administration debates the appropriate time to reopen the economy, there remains a notion that once everything reopens the small business community will bounce back to normal,” John Arensmeyer, founder and CEO at Small Business Majority said in a press release announcing the poll results. “However, our findings reveal just how far and wide the impact of coronavirus runs.”

“The COVID-19 stimulus assistance programs passed in the CARES Act do not provide the quick relief necessary to help small businesses now and in the future,” Arensmeyer said. “While Congress has already recognized gaping holes in PPP, simply plugging these gaps will not be enough.”

“What small businesses need is expanded relief programs that include direct, unrestricted grant assistance,” Arensmeyer said.

The press release continued:

In terms of policy solutions, the poll also found that 92 percent of small business owners support direct grant assistance to aid in recovery. While the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) is in jeopardy of running out of funding this week and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) payments are stalled, it’s important to note that 86 percent of respondents support broadening financial assistance for rent, mortgage, and utility payments by not tying aid to maintaining payroll as required by the PPP program.

Several small business owners weighed in on how the coronavirus outbreak — and the federal response — has shaped up in recent weeks.

Anastasia Mann, owner of Corniche Travel in California, said:

As the owner of a travel company, our business has taken a massive hit. All business is frozen, sales are down nearly 99 percent, and as a result, I have had to reduce salaries and cut employee hours.

 I desperately want to retain my staff, and I viewed PPP as a means of keeping them employed. However, the application process was complicated, and I was asked to reapply multiple times, jeopardizing my spot in line and delaying disbursement of the money my company urgently needs.

“In the midst of the worst financial crisis our business has experienced since we opened over five years ago, we had hoped that applying for PPP would be straightforward and help would be on the way quickly,” Rebecca Winters, who co-owns Lowcountry’s Children’s Co-op with Lauren Fields in South Carolina, said. 

“However, what we experienced was anything but simple,” Winters said. “For businesses like ours to make it, Congress needs to pass additional unrestricted grant assistance before it is too late.”

The poll was conducted April 6-9, 2020 by Chesapeake Beach Consulting for Small Business Majority. The margin of error is plus or minus 5.3 percent.

The grim effects of the pandemic on small businesses is also reflected in a study done by the personal finance website WalletHub, which found that 35 percent of businesses reported that their operation cannot last longer than three months under current conditions.

WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 12 key metrics to find which states have the most impacted small businesses.

The top ten states that are most affected, from one to ten, are Hawaii, Nevada, South Dakota, Mississippi, South Carolina, Louisiana, Arizona, Nebraska, North Carolina, and North Dakota.

The District of Columbia’s small businesses are fairing the best, according to the study, with the others in the bottom ten, from 42 to 51 are Oregon, New Jersey, Minnesota, Illinois, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. 

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