Census pulse survey focuses on small business survival

The U.S. Census Bureau's experimental pulse survey is providing real-time information on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on American small businesses.

WASHINGTON DC – Small businesses in Utah are faring slightly better than their counterparts across the nation during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to the Small Business Pulse Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Census polling from the week of May 10 to 16 revealed that the adverse impact of the coronavirus had obliged 75 percent of U.S. small businesses to request financial assistance from either their respective states or the federal government. The same percentage of Utah businesses had requested similar assistance. But about 45 percent of Utah firms reported having received the requested assistance, compared to a national average of 38 percent.

In addition to its usual once-a-decade headcount of residents in America, the U.S. Census Bureau is now using an experimental Small Business Pulse Survey to collect real-time data on how the U.S. economy has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Census communication specialist Jane Callen explains that the Small Business Pulse Survey will gather information on location closings, changes in employment, disruptions in the supply chain, the use of federal assistance programs and expectations concerning future operations.

More than 100,000 small businesses will be invited to respond to a short online survey each week until early July.

About 51 percent of all U.S. small business owners responded to the first Pulse survey indicating that their businesses had been negatively impacted by the coronavirus. Similar responses were received from only 39 percent of small business owners in Utah.

Negative impact from the coronavirus was felt more heavily in the hospitality and food service industries. Nearly 85 percent of national survey respondents from those sectors indicated that their businesses had been hurt by the pandemic.

More than 30 percent of national survey respondents estimated that it would take as long as six months for their businesses to return to normal.

Across the nation, about 41 percent of small businesses reported having to temporarily close due to mandatory efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Here in Utah, about 31 percent of small businesses reported temporary closings.

Specific segments of the small business community nationwide were more heavily impacted, however. In the educational services sector, 72 percent of businesses experienced temporary closings, along with 70 percent in the entertainment/recreation sector and 62 percent of businesses in the healthcare sector.

About 28 percent of U.S. small businesses reported having to fire or lay-off employees since mid-March due to the economic impact of the coronavirus. Similar responses were received from 20 percent of businesses in Utah.

Finally, about 12 percent of U.S. small businesses reported having missed a loan or mortgage payment since mid-March, compared to about 9 percent in Utah.

Callen said the initial pulse survey results were based on responses from more than 20,000 U.S. small businesses.

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