Welcome to the Small Business Rundown. Each day, we bring you stories that impact small business owners and their workforce.
Small Business News Highlights for May 13:
- Economists predict 1 in 4 Americans will be unemployed at height of economic crisis
- Workers voice concerns about virus exposure as businesses reopen
- Employers look for ways to screen employees prior to reopening
Unemployment rate expected to reach 25%
“Prolonged weakness could cause severe scarring effects such as permanent layoffs and business closures that delay the recovery.”
Goldman Sachs announced today that they have revised their estimate and now expect the unemployment rate to top 25% in the coming months. Data suggests that the unemployment rate during the Great Depression peaked at 24.9%. This new estimate comes as experts are warning that an economic recovery could take years, perhaps even a decade, and that the chances of a V-shaped recovery are growing increasingly slim.
Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, noted that the loss of small and medium-sized businesses will ultimately limit the strength of the recovery when it returns. He also emphasized that the long risk of a widening skills gap increases the longer workers remain jobless.
Concerned about COVID, people are heading back to work
“The first letter they sent said you should not have to choose between your health and a job, and now they’re like, ‘Well, if you don’t want to go back, you have to quit.’ I’m very anxious.”
Across the country, essential services workers and other employees continue to weigh their need for a paycheck against their health and safety. While many companies claim to have put protective measures in place, employees report that employers are relaxing policies and no longer limiting the number of customers allowed in at once. In response, many people protested on May 1 by walking off the job. Additionally, Congress continues to discuss hazard pay for essential workers, though no legislation has been passed.
Employers screening employees for immunity status
“Do we really want a world where some people can go to work and others can’t based on their immunity status?”
For employers prioritizing safety, finding effective and reliable screening methods is a key part of reopening for business. Screening employees for their immunity status is not a straightforward endeavor, however. Facial recognition software with fever detection capabilities, screening questionnaires, and wristbands that vibrate whenever employees are too close to each other are just a few of the ways that employers are trying to keep people safe in the workplace. Immunity badges have also been suggested as a way to identify workers who are safe to return
Public health experts warn that these efforts might not be enough to guarantee safety, though. Furthermore, workplace legal experts warn about the problems with allowing people to work based on their immune status.