COVID-19

Small business owners are still concerned about the economy

Jasmine Garsd Aug 11, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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As COVID-19 cases spike and fall, small business owners are feeling uncertain about the future. Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Small business owners are still concerned about the economy

Jasmine Garsd Aug 11, 2020
As COVID-19 cases spike and fall, small business owners are feeling uncertain about the future. Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The National Federation of Independent Businesses releases its small business confidence report Tuesday. 

In June, small businesses were more optimistic about the economy because states were starting to reopen. But now, some businesses say they are still struggling.

Christina Blanch owns Aw Yeah, a comic book store in Muncie, Indiana, that’s open for business. Back when the pandemic started in March, she said she was pretty worried. She’s still concerned.

“Some days, I’m like, this is not gonna work. We should just cut our losses and stop now,” she said.

Small businesses, like Blanch’s, add up to big business for the economy, according to Mark Cohen, director of retail studies at Columbia University’s Business School.

“Without a robust small business economy, we can’t envision any kind of meaningful recovery,” Cohen said.

He said there needs to be a more comprehensive stimulus package to help those businesses stay afloat.

Back in Indiana, Blanch is determined.

“I will not go down without a fight,” she said. “I have put everything that I have in this business.”

She said she isn’t getting much foot traffic at her store. Most of her sales, for the moment, are online.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

With a slow vaccine rollout so far, how has the government changed its approach?

On Tuesday, Jan. 12, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced changes to how the federal government is distributing vaccine doses. The CDC has expanded coronavirus vaccine eligibility to everyone 65 and older, along with people with conditions that might raise their risks of complications from COVID-19. The new approach also looks to reward those states that are the most efficient by giving them more doses, but critics say that won’t address underlying problems some states are having with vaccine rollout.

What kind of help can small businesses get right now?

A new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans recently became available for pandemic-ravaged businesses. These loans don’t have to be paid back if rules are met. Right now, loans are open for first-time applicants. And the application has to go through community banking organizations — no big banks, for now, at least. This rollout is designed to help business owners who couldn’t get a PPP loan before.

What does the hiring situation in the U.S. look like as we enter the new year?

New data on job openings and postings provide a glimpse of what to expect in the job market in the coming weeks and months. This time of year typically sees a spike in hiring and job-search activity, says Jill Chapman with Insperity, a recruiting services firm. But that kind of optimistic planning for the future isn’t really the vibe these days. Job postings have been lagging on the job search site Indeed. Listings were down about 11% in December compared to a year earlier.

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