Census Bureau’s “Small Business Pulse Survey” – The Situation is Slowly Improving

By at 4 June, 2021, 12:50 pm


The latest Small Business Pulse Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau provides an opportunity to take a look at how COVID-19’S impact on small businesses has changed over time. The small business take remains generally negative, but there have been improvements.

Consider how the answers to the following question have changed:  “Overall, how has this business been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic?”

Since the first survey over April 26-May 2, 2020, to the latest, from May 24-30, 2021, the notable shifts have been a large drop in small businesses experiencing a large negative effect due to the pandemic – for example, from 51.4 percent down to 26.2 percent – and an increase in small businesses experiencing little or no effect – from 7.6 percent to 23.0 percent.

When we combine the large and moderate negative effects, the direction has been welcome, but the share of small businesses still experiencing some negative effects remain substantial – from 89.9 percent in the April 26-May 2, 2020, survey, down to 68.9 percent in the May 24-30, 2021, survey.

The movement is welcome, but the trend clearly is in need of acceleration. Let’s hope that the pace quickens substantially with spreading vaccinations and relaxing rules, such as on social distancing. Government policy also needs to support small business recovery and growth, which means certainty regarding taxes and regulation.

Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.


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