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Despite the first COVID-19 vaccines being administered, most small businesses (62%) anticipate the worst of the pandemic’s economic impact is still ahead with half (50%) seeing their operations continuing for a year or less in the current business climate before having to close permanently. These sobering statistics come from poll results released yesterday by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife. (The poll was taken October 30 – November 10.)

Three-quarters (74%) of all small business owners say they need further government assistance. That percentage increases to 83% when looking at minority-owned businesses. Only four in 10 (40%) of all small business owners believe their business can continue to operate indefinitely without having to shut down permanently.

“The impact of coronavirus continues to take a devastating toll on America’s small businesses,” said Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “…We must ensure small businesses across the country receive the assistance they need from the federal government.”

He also stated, “The Portman-Manchin proposal required significant compromise on both liability protections and state and local aid. It should become law…. If, however, there is insufficient support, which appears to be the case, for including liability protection and state aid, Congress must pass the remainder of pandemic relief package developed by the bipartisan working group. Partial agreement is better than no agreement…”

According to the survey, the majority of small business owners (56%) disagree that they have all the support they need from the federal government for their business to succeed.

“Small businesses are the heart and soul of communities and need help from the federal government to survive. We are now nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic and this survey shows how hard Main Street has been hurt,” Bryan Owen, owner of Between Pixels in Marietta, GA said. “My employees and my customers are counting on a renewed bi-partisan effort in our nation’s capital to provide more help.”

Across all subgroups—business size, region, sector, gender, and ethnicity of the owner—80% or more are concerned about the virus’ impact on America’s economy. Yet minority-owned businesses are feeling a bigger impact from the pandemic. They report assistance being more vital, and have heightened concern about the pandemic’s impact on the local economy, their businesses, and mental health:

  • 83% of minority-owned small businesses say that more federal small business relief funds are important versus 71% for non-minority-owned small businesses.
  • Just over half (51%) of minority-owned small businesses are very concerned about the virus’s impact on the local economy versus 35% of non-minority-owned small businesses.
  • 41% of minority-owned small business are very concerned about the impact of the pandemic on their small business compared to 31% of non-minority-owned businesses.
  • 39% of minority-owned businesses are very concerned about the pandemic’s impact on their mental health, versus 23% of non-minority-owned businesses expressing the same concern.

Most small businesses see a long haul before things return to normal. Just a quarter of small businesses think the U.S. small business climate will return to normal in under six months, with more than half (56%) predicting between six months to a year for a return to normalcy. This is in line with sentiments expressed last quarter and in May (six months ago).

“Despite the overall view of the economy improving slightly from last quarter, far too many small businesses fear they won’t make it another year,” said Jessica Moser, senior vice president, Small and Specialty Business at MetLife. “It’s vital that the voices of small business owners are heard. They still need help – a lot of it.”

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