When our worlds began shutting down to protect each other from COVID-19, in many places, it seemed to happen suddenly: One day you could stroll into your favorite coffee shop or browse a bookstore in person, and the next day, every front door was locked, our own included. Some states are beginning to throw those doors open again, while others are being more cautious. No matter what, though, the long starvation period of self-quarantine and social distancing has wounded all manner of small businesses.
Facebook has just released the results of a massive survey, asking 86,000 owners and workers of small businesses how the coronavirus has affected their financial outlook. The numbers are grim: Of the small businesses that have already shut down, about one-third expect not to open again. Thirty-four percent of those respondents said it was due to inability to pay bills or rent.
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Huge majorities of workers, more than 70 percent, were making due without paid leave or sick leave. A separate study found that because of the coronavirus lockdown, U.S. workers have lost nearly $9,000 on average in income so far. The future is also looking more dire, especially as workers age: During the Great Recession of 2008 and after, about half of workers were willing to take an average 16 percent pay cut just to earn any income at all.
It's important to support your favorite businesses if you want them around in the future, but this is a structural problem — and if you have opinions on how to resolve it, you should let your elected representatives know.