December 15, 2020


Small businesses in West are more conservative when looking towards future

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 West are least likely to say worst of pandemic has passed and to increase investment next year.

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:

  • A majority (56%) of Western small business owners report good overall business health.To compare to other regions: 51% in Midwest, 50% in South, and 38% in the Northeast report the same. Additionally, 63% of Western small businesses report good cash flow (only the Midwest is higher at 65%).
  • Businesses in this region are more likely than those in the Midwest and South to say the U.S. economy is in poor health (53%). 33% of Western small businesses report good local economy health (compared to 35% for Southern small businesses, 34% for Midwestern and 22% for Northeastern).
  • The West is least likely to agree the worst of the pandemic has passed (36%).They are also more conservative when looking ahead to investments next year: Just 21% plan to increase investments (compared to 27-37% across other regions). The West comes second in plans to increase staff: 28% plan an increase in the coming year (versus 31% in the South, 25% in the Northeast, and 21% in the Midwest).

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

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

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

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 Please visit for the full results and methodology.