New Shutdowns And Relief Programs Point To Challenges And Opportunities In 2021
How did 2020 end for small business? The answer is mixed.
“Small businesses continued to prove that they are the engine of the economy as we closed a chapter on a challenging year,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Owners continue to manage various obstacles related to the COVID-19 pandemic but are doing their best to remain open and continue hiring employees.”
NFIB’s December jobs survey shows that small business hiring remains strong. At the same time, hiring plans weakened during the last month of the year. The full results of the survey are available here.
NFIB found that small businesses increased employment by 0.3 workers per firm on average over the past few months, an increase of 0.14 workers per firm compared to November. Eight percent reported increasing employment an average of 4.1 workers (down 4 points from November) while 13% reported reducing employment an average of 2.8 workers (down 1 point).
However, the net percentage of small business owners planning to fill open positions dropped 4 points, to 17%. Despite this decline, NFIB’s findings are still historically strong.
These findings come against a backdrop of significant developments at the federal and state levels.
At the federal level, a far-reaching pandemic relief bill was signed into law on December 27th. The bill contains much-needed expansions of the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance Grant. It reflects months of non-stop advocacy by the NFIB team and members.
At the state level, small businesses are dealing with another wave of government-mandated shutdowns, which have been disastrous for owners, workers, and communities. These actions have forced many small businesses to make difficult choices about hiring, expansion, and the future of their firms.
If your business has suffered from government-mandated restrictions, NFIB wants to hear from you. Send your story to NFIB today.
NFIB’s December jobs survey provided further proof that small businesses are struggling to cope in the current environment.
Despite the drop in the percentage of businesses looking to hire, small businesses still reported a historically high level of job openings in December. A seasonally adjusted 32% percent of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, down 2 points from November. Twenty-seven percent have openings for skilled workers (down 2 points) and 11% have openings for unskilled labor (down 2 points).
Finding qualified employees remains a major problem for many small businesses. Forty-eight percent of owners reported few or no “qualified” applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. Twenty-six percent of owners reported few qualified applicants for their open positions and 22% reported none.
NFIB is working to address small business concerns at every level of government. As the team continues to advocate on your behalf, please consider using NFIB’s resources and reach to benefit your business.
- Let NFIB guide you through the latest coronavirus relief bill, including the programs that apply to your business. Apply for these programs soon.
- Let NFIB tell your story to policymakers and the public, especially your struggles with government closures and restrictions. Record a brief video and send it to us soon.