Small business owners see long road to recovery, poll shows

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Small business owners said the COVID-19 pandemic gives them a sense of optimism, but most say they still see a long road to recovery before business returns to normal, a new poll shows.

According to a poll taken Jan. 14-27 by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife, more than half of small businesses said the availability of the vaccines makes them feel more optimistic about their business’s future. However, despite more of the vaccines being available, small business owners don’t see the economy going back to normal anytime soon. Six out of 10 (59 percent) small businesses this quarter say it will take between six months and a year to get back to normal.

The percentage predicting a slow recovery is the highest the Chamber has received since it started polling small businesses in March 2020. In the beginning, only 46 percent said it would take six months to a year.

Vaccine distribution is making small business owners more optimistic. More than half (54 percent) said they are optimistic about their business’s future, while 59 percent said they were optimistic about the business climate in the country and their state. Thirty-two percent of the businesses polled said they expected to increase hiring over the next year, up 5 percent since the fourth quarter of 2020.

“Vaccines are the ultimate shot at economic recovery, but we know there is a long road ahead for small business owners,” said Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Over one hundred thousand small businesses have already shuttered across the country, and the U.S. Chamber is working tirelessly to stop any more from closing. We must ensure small businesses receive the assistance they need to avoid permanent closure and continue to provide a livelihood for millions of Americans.”

Additionally, more minority-owned businesses (86 percent) are concerned about the virus’ impact on their business’s future compared to only 72 percent of non-minority-owned small businesses. Half (52 percent) of those polled said they are likely to require employee vaccinations, while 20 percent said that was not something they were likely to do. And seven in 10 small business owners said they were likely to get the vaccine as soon as it is made available to them.