Thaddeus Swanek Thaddeus Swanek
Senior Writer and Editor, Strategic Communications, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


April 03, 2020


Fill me in:

A new poll from MetLife and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reveals that one in four small businesses (24%) say they are two months or less from closing permanently amid the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. One in 10 (11%) say they are less than one month away from permanently going out of business.

Additionally, about one in four (24%) small businesses have already shut down temporarily in response to COVID-19. Among those that have not, 40% say they are likely to close at least temporarily within the next two weeks. This means a total of 54% of all small businesses report that they have closed or expect to close temporarily in the next 14 days.

Small businesses prefer cash payments, SBA loans:

When asked what proposals might offer the most relief, small businesses indicated support for three key provisions included in the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The most helpful forms of aid according to small businesses surveyed are:

  • Direct cash payments to Americans (56%)
  • Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loans (30%) and
  • Temporary cancellation of business payroll taxes (21%).

All of these are happening: direct cash payments will soon be going to many Americans, most small businesses will be able to apply for SBA disaster loans related to the impact of the coronavirus starting today, and business payroll tax cancellations are part of the CARES Act.

“Small businesses have taken an enormous hit from the disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak and we don’t want small businesses to fail because they are aren’t aware of what’s being offered,” said Tom Sullivan, vice president of small business policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “The Chamber has created numerous step-by-step guides to quickly help small businesses access the financial aid they need and better understand the relief available through the CARES Act.”

These U.S. Chamber guides for small business are listed below.

Longer term optimism:

Looking toward the future, small businesses see grounds for optimism. Almost one in four (23%) small business owners expect to hire in the next year and 57% feel positive about their overall business health. The survey also includes sentiment about the small business environment, operations, and expectations.

Key report data:

  • 24% of small businesses report having temporarily closed their business in the last two weeks.
  • Among those who haven’t temporarily shut down yet, 40% report it is likely they will do so within the next two weeks.
  • 54% of all small businesses are reporting they have closed or could close within the coming weeks.
  • 43% of small businesses say they are 3-6 months away from permanently shutting down.
  • 24% say they are two months or less from closing permanently and 1 in 10 that say they are less than one month away from permanently shutting down.
  • The most common business responses to the COVID-19 disruption are shortening hours of operation (30%), temporarily closing (24%), and adjusting employee salaries or hours (17%).

Report research was conducted by Ipsos from March 25 – 28, 2020. To read the full report, click here.

More U.S. Chamber resources for small business:

About the authors

Thaddeus Swanek

Thaddeus Swanek

Thaddeus is a senior writer and editor with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's strategic communications team.

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