Welcome to the Small Business Weekly Rundown. Each week, we bring you stories and trends that impact small business owners and their workforce.
Small Business News Highlights:
- House passed final version of COVID-19 relief bill
- Small business owners still waiting for Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness
- 2020 pushed many small business owners to embrace digital technology
- February jobs report sees unemployment fall to 6.2%
House passed final version of COVID-19 relief bill
“If President Biden signs the bill soon and there are no additional program requirements in the bill, we should be able to implement the extensions without any interruption in payments.”
The House of Representatives passed the Senate’s version of President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 relief bill today, paving the way for additional direct cash payments and expanded unemployment benefits to land in many Americans’ pockets soon.
The $1.9 trillion relief package includes $1,400 for adults, children, and adult dependents in households that meet the maximum income requirements and $300 per week in federal unemployment payment subsidies. The unemployment benefits would last through September 6, 2021. The measure also stipulates that recipients of unemployment checks would receive tax relief for the first $10,200 worth of payments.
Notably, the final version of the bill does not include a $15 per hour minimum wage increase.
Small business owners still waiting for Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness
“I have spent two months of my working time trying to get this forgiven.”
New data indicates that many small business owners have still not had their Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiven yet, despite the Small Business Administration opening up the review process last fall. For many SBOs, the delay is related to the fact that their lender hasn’t allowed them to begin the process yet.
In fact, the SBA reports that it’s already processed 1.8 million applications but has not received 3.2 million applications from the over 5 million loans that it has disbursed.
Industry experts note that many lenders are more focused on generating new loan applications as a way to bring in more revenue instead of dedicating resources to the loan forgiveness process.
2020 pushed many small business owners to embrace digital technology
“Small businesses that adopted new software in 2020 saw an exponential increase in sales and customer satisfaction and 2021 will be no different.”
Whether it was part of a long-term strategy or a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, 90% of small businesses report converting some aspect of their operation to a digital platform in 2020.
New data from SCORE shows that 95% of small businesses implemented an online checkout system and 92% adopted some sort of digital collaboration tool.
Overall, the digitization had a positive effect and saw an increase in productivity, customer engagement, and increased sales.
February jobs report sees unemployment fall to 6.2%
“Even though we saw job gains pick up, it’s clear that many Americans don’t feel comfortable returning to work.”
The February jobs report indicates that the United States economy added 379,000 additional jobs last month, causing the unemployment rate to fall to 6.2%.
Economists believe that the combination of the increased rate of vaccine administration and easing restrictions on businesses are behind the strong numbers.
In particular, gains in the restaurant, bar and entertainment industry are responsible for the boost to the labor market, adding 355,000 new positions, though economists also note that overall the country is still down approximately 9.5 million jobs over this time last year.
Unemployment for Black Americans jumped from 9.2% to 9.9%.
The Latest from Workest
The cannabis industry offers new opportunities for U.S. entrepreneurs. Catherine Tansey explores 10 People Operations Tips for HR Leaders in Cannabis to help support the workforce of this fast-growing industry.
Performance Management has been a hot topic this past year as companies have made the rapid shift to remote work. This week, Kelsey Banerjee discusses 4 key ways to fine-tune your company’s performance management strategy.
Finally, before we say goodbye for the week, here are 3 things you should know:
- Microsoft made headlines for recent server hacks by China, but many small businesses are impacted by this cybercrime, too.
- Effectively supporting report workers isn’t easy, but it is possible. Check out these 5 strategies to check in on teammates without being invasive or overbearing.
Companies across the country are re-evaluating how much office space they really need and how best to use post-pandemic.