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National survey finds support for extended benefits, masks

Staff Report //July 20, 2020//

National survey finds support for extended benefits, masks

Staff Report //July 20, 2020//

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A national survey of small-business owners found support for extending enhanced unemployment benefits and for measures mandating masks.

The Small Business for America’s Future survey (.pdf), conducted July 10-17, fielded more than 1,544 respondents from network members. It found that 56% support extending federal unemployment benefits set to expire later this month and 77% support ordinances requiring customers to wear masks.

Eighty percent of respondents expected the COVID-19 pandemic to disrupt business for the rest of 2020.

“As always, small-business owners are very practical,” Frank Knapp Jr., co-chair of Small Business for America’s Future and CEO of the S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce, said in a news release. “They see the need for following science and the need to continue putting money in the pockets of the two-thirds of workers who lost their jobs because of the pandemic and have not been rehired. The grave concern is that the lack of Washington leadership could result in their businesses closing again, putting their future in further jeopardy.”

Twenty percent of respondents believe employees are not returning to work because they make more money on unemployment, while 56% worry that expiring unemployment benefits will harm consumer spending. Sixty-eight percent wanted a nationwide plan for reopening businesses, while 76% were willing to comply with health recommendations even if customer traffic is reduced, if government support was provided.

The pandemic had 27% considering closing their businesses permanently, while 21% said they are facing the possibility of bankruptcy and 58% have taken on additional debt.

“This is a crisis of leadership,” Candace Combs, owner of In-Symmetry Spa in San Francisco, said in the release. “The lack of a national plan to reopen safely has led to a resurgence of the virus. Business openings across the country are being rolled back. Unemployment benefits for our employees are about to run out. It has hurt me and many other small-business owners I know.

“We need action. Without more unemployment benefits and small business grants, people are going to walk out their front door when this is all over and it's going to be a ghost town. All the small businesses you know and love will be gone.”