As states lift coronavirus restrictions, 1 in 5 small businesses remains closed: Poll

1% of small businesses in the US are closed permanently because of the coronavirus lockdown

One-fifth of the nation's small businesses remain closed, even as states gradually lift the economic lockdown instituted to counter the novel coronavirus outbreak.

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That’s according to a new poll released by the Chamber of Commerce, which found that one in five small businesses are closed, 19 percent temporarily and 1 percent permanently.

A majority of small businesses — 79 percent —  are open in some capacity, with 41 percent fully open and 38 percent partially open.

But there's a disparity in where the openings are taking place. For instance, New York City, the American epicenter of the outbreak of the virus, just moved into the first phase of its four-step reopening plan on Monday, whereas states like Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee opened the majority of their economies at the beginning of May.

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The openings were concentrated heavily in the South, where more than half of small business owners said they were fully open, according to the poll.

There are roughly 30 million small businesses in the U.S. that employ about 58.9 million workers, or about half of the total U.S. workforce.

Larger small businesses were also concerned about potential lawsuits related to coronavirus. Two-thirds of small businesses with 20 to 500 employees said they were worried about his possibility.

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But even as the economy points to early signs of recovering from the pandemic — a surprisingly good May jobs report showed employers added 2.5 million jobs last month and unemployment fell to 13.3 percent — 55 percent of small businesses said they believe it will take up to a year for the small businesses economic climate to return to pre-crisis levels. That's up from 50 percent last month and 46 percent two months ago.

More than eight in 10 small businesses are making changes in response to the outbreak of the virus; that includes 48 percent of businesses that will more frequently clean and disinfect surfaces. Four in 10 are also requiring employees to wear protective gear or maintain six feet of distance between employees and customers.

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Seventy-one percent of firms say they have the same number of employees now as they did in February, before the pandemic started. Among employees that cut workers, 55 percent plan to rehire or bring back the majority of their workforce within the next six months.

A separate study by researchers at the University of Illinois, Harvard Business School, Harvard University and the University of Chicago suggests that least 2 percent of small businesses are gone as a result of the outbreak and related shutdown.

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