South Dakota Small Business Now Drastically Impacted by Coronavirus

Date: March 25, 2020

Pierre Contractor Worries About Paying Employees

The NFIB Research Center’s latest survey on the current impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on small business offers a stark contrast from the survey released 10 days ago. The magnitude of disruption now on the small business sector is profound.

Currently, 76% of small businesses are negatively impacted by the outbreak of the coronavirus, a dramatic escalation from just under one-quarter of small businesses reporting the same earlier this month. About 5% are positively impacted. These firms are likely experiencing stronger sales due to a sharp rise in demand for certain products, goods, and services. This will presumably ease in the coming weeks as consumers feel more secure about their personal supply levels.

One-in-five (20%) small businesses are not currently affected by the outbreak, but 77% of them anticipate that changing if the outbreak spreads to or spreads more broadly in their immediate area over the next 3 months. This marks a sharp departure from the earlier survey where 43% of small businesses anticipated being impacted if the virus spread. Just 4% do not believe they will be impacted if the outbreak escalates and 18% are not sure.

Of those businesses negatively impacted, 23% are experiencing supply chain disruptions, 54% slower sales, and 9% sick employees. The 9% of owners citing sick employees likely responded out of heightened concern and precautions with sick employees showing some signs of cold or flu-like symptoms, but not necessarily because they have employees who have tested positive for the virus.

“This public health crisis is also an economic crisis that is creating unprecedented hurdles for our small business. As government responds to the spread of the COVID-19 virus, it is critically important that small business owners and their employees have the right programs in place so they can address the hardships they face trying to keep their doors open,” said Lindsey Riter-Rapp, NFIB State Director in South Dakota.

In Pierre, Jedrey Baumann is trying to keep giving all of his 65 employees a paycheck, but wonders how long he’ll be able to continue doing that. Right now, the general contractor has suspended many of the 18 work sites he had across three states. One shut down because the school closed, another stopped work because the superintendent is under quarantine after a gas station worker in the remote area tested positive for the coronavirus. Baumann says his employees are scared and he’s worried not only about their physical health but also their mental health as the crisis wears on.

Baumann has applied for a Small Business Association disaster loan but doubts that can keep him afloat. He’s getting more and more frustrated as he watched members of Congress bicker about a stimulus package.

“Small business owners and their employers need money right now. While I don’t want to go to the government with my hands out, they need to do something to keep their country afloat. All I’m asking for is a loan with a reasonable interest rate I can pay back over a long period of time. If they wait too long – it’s going to be too late,” said Baumann.

Almost all small business owners are taking some sort of action adjusting to their changing economic condition or to protect themselves from potential disruption. Just 6% of owners have not taken any action in response to the outbreak, a market departure from more than half (52%) not taking action two weeks ago.

The level of concern among small business owners about the coronavirus impacting their business has elevated significantly over the past two weeks. About 68% of small business owners are “very” concerned about its potential impact on their business compared to 16% in the earlier survey. Another 23% are somewhat concerned and 9% are slightly concerned. Just 1% are not at all concerned.

While many small businesses (47%) have not talked with their bank about financing needs, 30% are planning to do so soon. Another 13% have talked with their personal bank already, 9% with the SBA about their loan programs, and 1% with an online lender.

The vast majority of small businesses are now impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak and owners are taking the threat to their business seriously. Many owners have already sought out financial help and more are planning to do so in the near future. The outbreak will leave few, if any, owners unscathed. We know the economic impact will be immense, and now, the question is how long will it last and how quickly can the small business sector recover once on the other side. Small business owners are anxious to seek clarity to both questions.

Methodology

This survey was conducted with a random sample of NFIB’s membership database of about 300,000 small business owners. The survey was conducted by email on March 20, 2020. NFIB collected 700 usable responses, all small employers with 1-360 employees.  

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