Small Business Owners Still Feel Pain of Pandemic and Fear More to Come

Tuesday, December 15, 2020 - 9:30am

Small businesses in South are most likely to report good local economy

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Small businesses anticipate the worst of the pandemic is still ahead and half (50%) of small businesses see their operations continuing for a year or less in the current business climate before having to permanently close according to a new poll taken October 30 – November 10 and released today by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife. The survey also found that small businesses in the South are most likely to report a good local economy and to have plans to increase staff.

Amid a new surge in cases across the nation, most (62%) small businesses fear that the worst is still to come with COVID-19’s economic impact and three-quarters (74%) of all small business owners say they need further government assistance to weather the storm. That percentage increases to 81% 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. In fact, half of them say they can operate for a year or less before closing permanently,” 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. Not passing the bipartisan compromise for temporary and targeted relief risks the permanent loss of tens of thousands of small businesses, financial hardship for millions of Americans, and unnecessary delays in combatting the pandemic.”

Regional findings include:

  • Compared to last quarter, views toward the country’s economic health have improved more among Southern small businesses than in any other region. Those in the South tend to feel better about the national economy (35%), nearing perceptions seen in July (38%) after a low point in September (21%). On a regional level, Southern small businesses are most likely to report good local economic health (35%), followed by Midwestern (34%) and Western (33%) small businesses.
  • Half (50%) of Southern small businesses report good business health, on par with those in the Midwest (51%) and West (56%), and significantly higher than those in the Northeast (38%). Also, 36% plan to increase investments and 53% expect an increase in revenues (nationwide, 52% of small businesses anticipate revenue increases one year from now). Southern small businesses are most likely to have plans to increase staff (31% in the South, 28% in the West, 25% in the Northeast, and 21% in the Midwest).
  • Small businesses in the South are most likely to say (50%) the worst of the pandemic is behind us (44% agree in the Midwest, 40% in the Northeast, 36% in the West). 

The regional Small Business Index score for the South is 53.1. This compares to the Northeast (52.4), the Midwest (53.4), and the West (52.7). 

Nationally, the current Small Business Index score is 52.9 (a slight increase of 2.6 points from 50.3 in Q3). However, the new score remains substantially below findings before the pandemic struck: the Index score was 71.7 in Q1 of 2020, based on data collected before the full economic impact of the coronavirus set in.    

About the Small Business Index  

The MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index is part of a multiyear collaboration by MetLife and the U.S. Chamber to elevate the voice of America’s small business owners and highlight the important role they play in the nation’s economy. The initiative produces the quarterly Index, which is a survey of 1,000 small businesses to take the temperature of the sector, see where small business owners are confident, and where they are experiencing challenges.  

From April – July 2020, MetLife and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had switched to producing a special monthly coronavirus report, the Small Business Coronavirus Impact Poll. To read those reports, visit uschamber.com/sbpoll

For small business resources on the coronavirus, please visit uschamber.com/co. The latest resources, step-by-step guidance, and insights to help American businesses, workers, and families is available at uschamber.com/coronavirus.  

About MetLife  

MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), through its subsidiaries and affiliates (“MetLife”), is one of the world’s leading financial services companies, providing insurance, annuities, employee benefits and asset management to help its individual and institutional customers navigate their changing world. Founded in 1868, MetLife has operations in more than 40 countries and holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. For more information, visit www.metlife.com. Please visit www.sbindex.us for the full results and methodology.