NFIB Weekly News
Leading the News
Small Businesses Nearing Breaking Points As Talks Over Economic Recovery Package Continue (08/04/2020)
Reuters (7/29, Saphir, Marte) reported that many small businesses “are reaching...breaking points in an economy with the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression. Small firms have survived the pandemic so far with a mix of government aid, forbearance on debt and rent and creativity in selling to an increasingly homebound and financially distressed populace.” The first wave of aid is running short and “lawmakers are in tense negotiations over a new round of stimulus, which could include more money for small business.”
Small Business Owners Anticipate Improved Economic Outlook
NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index (7/14) improved by 6.2 points to 100.6 in June. The NFIB Uncertainty Index also decreased one point to 81, with owners anticipating improving sales as the economy continues to re-open. NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg was quoted saying, “We’re starting to see positive signs of increased consumer spending, but there is still much work to be done to get back to pre-crisis levels.”
NFIB: One In Five Small Businesses Plan Layoffs After Using PPP Loan
Bloomberg (7/10, Niquette) reported, “An increasing number of U.S. small businesses plan to lay off workers after using a federal coronavirus relief loan as many states are slowing or changing reopening plans amid a spike in cases, a new survey shows. About 22% of firms that received Paycheck Protection Program assistance have fired workers or expect to lay off one or more workers once their loan runs out, up from 14% last month, according to a National Federation of Independent Business survey of its members.” In the survey, the NFIB said, “As owners finish using their loan, more are finding that economic conditions are unable to support current staffing levels.” Bloomberg suggests the results of the NFIB survey (7/6-7/7) “add to evidence that the outlook for the labor market could worsen in the coming weeks as stimulus aid expires and coronavirus cases spike in states including Florida, Texas and Arizona.”
President Trump Signs Five-Week PPP Extension
Reuters (7/4, Johnson) reported President Trump on Saturday “signed into law a deadline extension to August 8 for small businesses to apply for relief loans under a federal aid program to help businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic, the White House said.” According to Reuters, “The extension to the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), which was launched in April to keep Americans on company payrolls and off unemployment assistance, gives business owners an additional five weeks to apply for funding assistance plagued by problems.”
The AP (7/4) reported that around $130 billion out of the $660 billion “approved for the program remains eligible for businesses...though demand for the Paycheck Protection Program has pretty much dried up in recent weeks.”
Small Businesses Struggle To Regain Footing As Economy Begins To Recover
The Hill (6/21, Lane) reported that while “an unprecedented flood of federal support may have helped larger companies stay afloat,” many small businesses “continue to face severe economic pain, suggesting the recovery from the coronavirus-fueled recession will be slow and uneven.” While May saw more than 2 million people return to work, “many smaller firms — and the typically low-wage workers who depend on them — have fallen through the cracks despite federal programs intended to help them.” According to a new research paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, “more than 3 million small business owners were forced to close shop between February and April... roughly 22 percent of all small businesses.”
In Wake Of Pandemic, New Trump Order Temporarily Suspends Work Visas
Media coverage of the President’s executive order on immigration was largely unfavorable, with reports highlighting business opposition and casting Trump as using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to implement his agenda. Politico (6/22, McCaskill) indicates “the new order extends restrictions originally enacted in April due to the coronavirus pandemic and expands on the previous directive, which blocked most people from receiving a permanent residency visa – or green card.” The new order also “prohibits visas for most guest workers who come to the US for temporary or seasonal work, but exempts farm workers, among others.” The Washington Examiner (6/22, Giaritelli) estimates that “in all, the visas being suspended would prevent approximately 525,000 immigrants from entering the US through the end of 2020.”
The Hill (6/22, Samuels) reports “a senior administration official said that the visa restrictions would free up more than half a million jobs for workers already in the country.” However, adds The Hill, “many companies are laying off workers due to the pandemic, and economic experts have acknowledged some of those jobs may not return.”
States Hit Hardest By Coronavirus See Most Small Business Defaults (08/04/2020)
Reuters (7/31, Saphir) reported the US states “hit hardest by COVID-19 had some of the biggest jumps in small business loan defaults since the onset of the pandemic, and some of the highest rates of default overall, according to data provided to Reuters on Friday by PayNet, a division of credit tracking company Equifax Inc.” Reuters said the defaults from February to June “rose fastest in New York, where the disease has killed more people than in any other state,” while “Louisiana, the state with the highest per-capita case count as of the end of July, had the fourth-highest default rate among small businesses,” and “Florida, with the fourth-highest per-capita COVID-19 case count, had the highest default rate of any state, at 4.29%.”
US GDP Shrunk By Record Amount In Second Quarter
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CNBC (7/30, Cox) said on its website that Q2 US GDP “plunged 32.9% on an annualized basis,” but “economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for a drop of 34.7%.” CNBC says “sharp contractions in personal consumption, exports, inventories, investment and spending by state and local governments converged to bring down GDP, which is the combined tally of all goods and services produced during the period.” Reuters (7/30, Mutikani) reported that “the bulk of the deepest contraction in at least 73 years...occurred in April when activity almost ground to an abrupt halt after restaurants, bars and factories among others were shuttered in mid-March to slow the spread of coronavirus.”
Companies Facing Lawsuits Over Workers’ COVID-19 Deaths
The Wall Street Journal (7/30, A1, Adamy, Subscription Publication) reported that employers including Walmart Inc., Safeway Inc., Tyson Foods Inc., and some healthcare facilities are being sued for gross negligence or wrongful death by the families of workers who allege their loved ones contracted COVID-19 on the job. Companies also faced lawsuits from workers who survived the virus and are seeking payment for medical bills, future earnings and other damages.
Fed Concerned New Virus Outbreaks Could Hurt Economy, Leaves Rates Unchanged
The AP (7/29, Rugaber) reported, “The Federal Reserve expressed concern Wednesday that the viral outbreak will act as a drag on the economy and hiring in the coming months and said it plans to keep its benchmark short-term interest rate pegged near zero.” In a statement, “the Fed acknowledged that the economy has rebounded from the depths of March and April, when nearly all states closed down nonessential businesses,” but “it said the ongoing coronavirus pandemic ‘will weigh heavily on economic activity, employment and inflation.’”
Consumer Spending Rose 5.6% In June
The Wall Street Journal (7/31, Mitchell, Chen, Subscription Publication) reported the Commerce Department last Friday announced consumer spending in June rose 5.6% over the previous month, which had seen a 8.5% increase over April.
White House, Congressional GOP Consider Limits On New Round Of Payments
The Washington Post (7/9, Stein, Werner) reported, “The White House and congressional Republicans are exploring whether to restrict the number of Americans receiving the next round of stimulus payments,” further than the income limits in the previous package, though they “may ultimately revive the original proposal because of the difficult administrative challenges created by trying to narrowly target the checks.” Senate Majority Leader McConnell has suggested targeting “those earning under $40,000, but it was not clear whether he was suggesting that would be the new cap.” McConnell also mentioned those in the hospitality business as particularly harmed by the pandemic.
Zelle Transaction Volume Increases 60% Year-Over-Year In First Half Of 2020 (08/04/2020)
American Banker (7/29, Fitzgerald, Subscription Publication) reported P2P payments app Zelle has seen transaction volume rise during the pandemic, with $133 billion traveling through its network in 519 million transactions during the first 6 months of 2020. This is an increase of 60% from the same period in 2019.
Adobe Target Announces Enhanced Analytics
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CRM Magazine (7/29) reported on Adobe Target being updated with “increased” Adobe Analytics-enhanced reporting with Sensei-powered testing and personalization capabilities. Improvements include Auto-Allocate for testing in low-traffic areas, Auto-Target for better personalization, and Recommendations for customizable algorithms.
Some Small Businesses Using Commercial Cards To Buy Stock
PYMNTS (7/9) reported Capital on Tap Head of Growth Alex Miles says small business credit cards can be more versatile than business owners may believe. Miles’ firm “wields the small business credit card as a tool to connect small businesses to financing.” However, Miles has found small business are using their cards to purchase stock, adding that the working capital optimization of such cards is attractive for businesses looking to procure inventory.
Op-Ed: Strong Cybersecurity Strategy Is No Longer A Luxury For Small Businesses
In an op-ed on the CNBC (7/9) website, Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) wrote, “The pandemic has seriously impacted the health of businesses everywhere, and for most employers, getting back to business cannot come soon enough. But while businesses across the country prepare to welcome back their customers, hackers and cyber criminals are actively infiltrating and exploiting small business databases. Cyberattacks have skyrocketed worldwide as criminals capitalize on the confusion and anxiety surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. In a recent press release, the FBI characterized the number of online schemes to swindle both businesses and individuals out of money and personal data as ‘truly breathtaking.’” He adds, “Earlier this year, I introduced the bipartisan SECURE Small Business Act to help small business owners access information on data protection best practices and enable them to band together to purchase cybersecurity products at lower prices. A strong cybersecurity strategy is no longer a luxury – it is a necessity.”
Amazon Reveals 10 States With Most Digital Entrepreneurs
Fox Business (7/9, Conklin) reported Amazon announced Thursday “the top 10 states with the most digital entrepreneurs based on the number of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) selling in Amazon’s online stores.” The company “revealed the top 10 states with the most SMBs selling in Amazon’s stores per capita, as well as the top 10 states with the fastest-growing number of SMBs selling in Amazon’s stores per capita.” Iowa topped both categories. Amazon Head of Small Business Empowerment Keri Cusick said in a statement, “Iowa is home to thousands of small and medium-sized businesses selling in Amazon’s stores, and we’re working hard to support their growth despite the global pandemic.” As CEO of an Iowa-based business, Blake Anderson “said Amazon has helped his store reach more customers than his team could have on their own, and it has helped his business ‘continue to grow more than 90 percent year-over-year.’”
CEO Offers Advice To Small Business Owners Struggling During Pandemic
Forbes (7/2, Catmull) highlighted several key pieces of wisdom offered by Voya Retirement and Employee Benefits CEO Charles Nelson that small business owners “can consider using to get you through your own business challenges” such as the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. According to the article, Nelson’s mantras for helping him through this time are “not all storms come to disrupt our lives, some are opportunities to clear our path.” Nelson also found industrialist Henry Ford’s mantra that said, “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it” to be helpful.
Weekly Jobless Claims Rise To 1.434M As Senators Remain Divided On Extending Benefit (08/04/2020)
CNBC (7/30, Imbert) said on its website that the Labor Department reported Thursday that “the number of Americans who filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week totaled 1.434 million,” making it “the 19th straight week in which initial claims totaled at least 1 million and the second consecutive week in which initial claims rose after declining for 15 straight weeks.” Continuing claims, that is “those receiving unemployment benefits for at least two straight weeks,” increased “by 867,000 to 17.018 million for the week ending July 18.” Bloomberg (7/30, Rockeman) said “the jump in continuing claims was concentrated in California and Texas, which reported a combined increase of about 576,000 on an unadjusted basis,” while Florida “showed a decline of about 122,000.”
More Than 1.3M Applied For Unemployment Benefits Last Week
The AP (7/9, Rugaber) reported, “More than 1.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, a historically high pace that shows that many employers are still laying people off.” The AP adds that what it calls “the persistently elevated level of layoffs” are happening “as a spike in virus cases has forced six states to reverse their move to reopen businesses.” The six states, it adds, “make up one-third of the US economy.” Still, the AP reports the number “fell from 1.4 million in the previous week,” and those “receiving jobless benefits dropped 700,000 to 18 million” which “suggests that some companies are continuing to rehire workers.” So far, the AP says, “the economy has regained only about one-third of the jobs that vanished in March and April.” Reuters (7/9, Mutikani) says the number of applicants “dropped to a near four-month low last week, but a record 32.9 million people were collecting unemployment checks in the third week of June, supporting expectations the labor market would take years to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Hiring Hit All-Time High In May Following April’s Plunge
The AP (7/7, Rugaber) reported the Labor Department revealed last week that “the job market took a big step toward healing in May, though plenty of damage remains, as a record level of hiring followed record layoffs in March and April.” The AP adds that “the figures, from the government’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, or JOLTS, illustrate the whiplash the economy has experienced since the pandemic intensified in mid-March. Layoffs soared in March to a stunning 11.5 million, roughly four times the peak during the 2008-2009 recession ... But in May they fell back to pre-pandemic levels of 1.8 million.” The AP adds that in April, hiring “plunged...to 4 million, the lowest level since 2011, but jumped to 6.5 million in May,” which was “the most hires on record.”
Trump Says He Backs Additional Direct Payments, Changes To Unemployment Benefits
CNBC (7/1, Breuninger) reported on its website that on Wednesday, President Trump “said...that he supports another round of direct payments to Americans – and claimed he wants to give out more money than Democrats have already proposed.” The Washington Examiner (7/1, Krishan) reported Trump said during an interview on Fox Business, “I support it, but it has to be done properly. And I support larger numbers actually than the Democrats, but it’s got to be done properly.”
Three States, Major Cities Raise Minimum Wage
The Hill (7/1, Elis) reported states including Illinois, Nevada, and Oregon, along with a number of major cities, are enacting higher minimum wages effective July 1. Those opposed to the hikes hold that increases augment labor costs, and in turn, unemployment.
New Unemployment Claims Continue To Fall At Slow Rate
The AP (6/18, Rugaber) reported that “U.S. employers are still shedding jobs at a heavy rate, a trend that points to a slow and prolonged recovery from the recession.” The AP added, “the number of laid-off workers seeking unemployment benefits barely fell last week to 1.5 million, the government said Thursday,” which “was down from a peak of nearly 7 million in March, and...marked an 11th straight weekly drop.” However, “the number is still more than twice the record high that existed before the pandemic,” and “the total number of people receiving jobless aid remains a lofty 20.5 million.” The New York Times (6/18, Casselman, Hsu) said, “not all of the unemployment claims reported on Thursday necessarily reflect new layoffs,” as “some states are working through backlogs of claims filed earlier in the crisis,” and “in other cases, people filing under multiple programs may be double-counted.”