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Census survey reveals majority of small businesses expect long-term challenges

January 28, 2021

Concluding its final phase of the Small Business Pulse Survey (SBPS), the U.S. Census Bureau released findings comparing responses from early in the pandemic to those collected the first week in January. From early responses collected in April 2020 to those collected this winter, business expectations of a return to normal level of operations have shifted so that there are many businesses with expectations at opposite extremes: businesses with expectation of a short-term return to normal and those facing long-term challenges.

In the most recent survey, 30.7 percent of respondents reported that their business had a large negative effect caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, and another 44.3 percent reported a moderate negative effect. More than half of the respondents also expect a longer timeframe before conditions return to normal than reported in the spring of 2020: 46.4 percent said more than six months, 7.1 percent do not believe their business will return to normal, and 1.8 said the business had permanently closed.

The results also differed across economic sectors with a higher percentage of businesses in the construction, finance and insurance, real estate, and administrative support sectors reporting their business was not affected by the pandemic or had already returned to normal levels of operation. Other sectors including arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services reported the most concern about returning to normal operations and cited more long-term challenges facing their business.

SBPS surveyed small-single-location-employer businesses and tracked how they have managed during COVID-19. The full survey data can be found here.

small business, census