SMB News Weekly Rundown

Welcome to the Small Business Weekly Rundown. Each week, we bring you stories and trends that impact small business owners and their workforce.

payroll software

Small Business News Highlights:

Private payroll jobs down for the first time in 8 months

“America’s great jobs machine ran into a wall of rising coronavirus cases and state lockdowns which puts the entire economic recovery from recession at risk.” 

The economy continued to lose momentum at the end of 2020, as soaring COVID-19 infection rates, continuing layoffs, and sluggish consumer spending all contributed to a net decline of 123,000 jobs from U.S. private payrolls. The drop represents the first decrease in 8 months.

Economists believe, however, that the drop will not move the country back into an actual recession due to the economic stimulus measures passed by Congress late last month, when nearly $900 billion in relief and pandemic-related spending was authorized.

Meanwhile, new unemployment claims fell by 19,000 last week, but remain 4 times as high as pre-pandemic levels.

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SBA 504 Microloans can be forgiven under new stimulus bill

“I thought this debt relief program was an opportunity to provide fast, automatic targeted relief to SBA loan holders.”

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is not the only option for small business owners looking for economic relief. A little-known clause of the CARES Act allows for small business owners to apply for forgiveness for both the principal and interest accrued on 504 Microloans from the Small Business Administration.

Unlike PPP loans, applicants for these loans do not have to demonstrate that their business has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. Lawmakers estimate that the program will channel $3.5 billion in debt relief for small businesses.

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United States Department of Labor releases new rule impacting gig workers

“Streamlining and clarifying the test to identify independent contractors will reduce worker misclassification, reduce litigation, increase efficiency, and increase job satisfaction and flexibility.”

The Department of Labor announced a final rule today that clarifies the standard for employee vs. contractor classification.

The final rule has the potential to make it easier for employers like Uber and Lyft to classify workers as independent contractors. Among other points, the rule identifies “core factors” that are central to the determination of a worker’s classification, including the nature and degree of control over the work and the worker’s opportunity for profit or loss based on initiative or investment.

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President-elect Joe Biden to outline economic priorities in speech

“…his commitment to ensuring direct relief reaches the small businesses that need help the most, with a focus on Black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American small business owners who need additional resources to reopen and rebuild.”

President-elect Joe Biden is scheduled to give a speech outlining his plans for additional COVID-19 relief for small businesses. Members of the transition team note that he will place emphasis on helping minority small business owners recover and renew his commitment to rooting out waste and fraud, as well as relying on public health measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The Latest from Workest

As Congress meets to certify the Electoral College votes for Joe Biden, the president-elect’s platform is on many peoples’ minds. Cinnamon Janzer explores Biden’s plan to help small business employees save for retirement.

Do your employees have the technology they need to stay productive and efficient while working from home? Find out how VPN can boost small business productivity for remote workers.

Finally, before we say goodbye for the week, here are 3 things you should know:

  1. Despite frigid temperatures, Portland, Maine has extended outdoor dining until May 10, 2021, reflecting nationwide efforts to find ways to help restaurants stay afloat.
  2. Amazon now offers an in-home test for COVID-19 that boasts results as soon as 24 hours after the sample is received.
  3. Federal and state officials are cracking down after an estimated $36 billion worth of federal COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance relief funds were siphoned off by fraudulent claims.
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