Census survey: Most small businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19 pandemic

Over 50% of small businesses experienced a substantial negative effect from the COVID-19 pandemic and more than 30% believe it will take more than six months for their operations to return to normal, according to a new Census Bureau survey.

The bureau released key findings from 22,449 businesses who had responded to the survey between April 26 and May 2. For businesses within the accommodation and food services sector of that group, 83.5% indicated that they had experienced a negative effect due to the pandemic.

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At the time they completed the survey, 41.4% of small businesses indicated that they had temporarily closed for at least one day, while 44.9% stated that there were disruptions in their supply chains.

“Of note, an average 72.2% of businesses in the educational services sector, 62.4% in healthcare and social assistance sector, and 70.8% in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector temporarily closed a location for at least one day,” the U.S. Census Bureau states.

The bureau said that in future releases, they will begin showing impact on sectors at the national and state level and will include data from the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

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While the data collected by the survey is troubling, it is not entirely unsurprising, Lockdown and stay-at-home orders initiated amid the COVID-19 pandemic have shuttered the doors and have negatively impacted commercial activity of many non-essential businesses across the country.

Even for businesses that remain open in a full or limited manner, they still are catering to a consumer base that consists of millions of out-of-work individuals. 

More than 36 million new unemployment claims have been filed over the past two months, with U.S. Treasury Secretary warning that unemployment levels could reach 25%, close to the levels witnessed during the Great Depression.