SMALL BUSINESS PULSE SURVEY: The State of the Pandemic and Small Business

By at 9 September, 2021, 9:03 pm

by Raymond J. Keating –

Starting in April 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Business Pulse Survey has been providing some valuable information on the impact of the pandemic on small businesses.

Let’s look at some of the results from the latest survey week, which were released on September 9th.

Pandemic Continues to Negatively Impact Small Businesses

In case any doubts linger about the business challenges brought on by this pandemic, especially due to the Delta variant, 67.5 percent of small business owners agreed that the coronavirus pandemic has had moderate-to-large negative effects on their firms.

Regarding employment, during the survey period of August 30 to September 5, while 7.3 percent of small businesses said that they added employees during the week, 12.3 percent said that they reduced the number of employees (with 80.6 percent saying no change).

Vaccine Mandates in the Workplace

Regarding a coronavirus vaccination requirement in order to come to work, 10.1 percent said that they had such a requirement, while 77 percent did not.

Labor Challenges Continue  

On the issue of hiring, 33.9 percent said that they had difficulty hiring employees, with 29 percent saying they did not. Looking ahead over the coming six months, 39.5 percent said that they would need to identify and hire new employees.

Supply Chain Issues Remain Dominant

In terms of supplier challenges, 42.4 percent said that they had experienced domestic supplier delays, and 17.4 percent had foreign supplier delays. Meanwhile, 50.6 percent experienced none of the delays spelled out in the survey.

Will Business Ever Return to Normal?

As for the business returning to normal operations, 39.1 percent said that it will take more than six months; 12 percent said less than six months or less; and 10.1 percent said never.

So, 61.2 percent were still waiting (or hoping) for their business to return to normal. Meanwhile, 19.6 percent said that there has been little or no effect on the business and 18 percent said it already has returned to normal levels.

In terms of the economic impact, small businesses and their employees continue to experience great hardship driven by the pandemic, and the road ahead promises to present both challenges and opportunities. Elected officials need to understand the issues and barriers affecting small businesses in order advance policies that make it easier to navigate the challenges (no new taxes or regulatory costs), which would allow entrepreneurs to leverage market opportunities provided in the evolving economic landscape.

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


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