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.

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Small Business News Highlights:

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U.S. House extends Paycheck Protection Application deadline through end of May

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to extend the application window for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

With $93 billion still left to award to struggling small businesses, the Small Business Administration-run program will continue accepting applications for the forgivable loans through the end of May. The Senate has not voted to extend the program, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has indicated that the chamber will do so soon.

Businesses halt layoffs after passage of $1.9 trillion stimulus package

“The real benefit we see is the immediate and direct relief that millions of people, including hundreds of thousands of out-of-work hospitality workers, will experience as result of this law.”

Organizations across a wide range of industries have announced that they will be able to scale back or eliminate planned layoffs due to the recent passage of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package.

Airlines, hospitality companies and restaurants, and even municipal-run agencies like local transportation authorities have indicated that help from the federal government will allow them to save jobs that otherwise would’ve been cut.

Man fills in Unemployment benefits application form.

Federal Reserve paints rosy forecast regarding unemployment, indicates inflation concerns

“Following a moderation in the pace of the recovery, indicators of economic activity and employment have turned up recently, although the sectors most adversely affected by the pandemic remain weak.” 

The Federal Reserve has indicated that it expects the U.S. economy to quickly gain ground in its recovery and anticipates that the unemployment rate will fall to 4.5% this year. While the Fed does expect inflation to reach about 2% by the end of the year, it believes that the GDP will grow by as much as 6.5% which would put the country on track to see interest rates rise by early next year.

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New York State passed a law to provide paid leave for workers getting COVID-19 vaccine

“It is vital that these essential employees, which include healthcare workers, grocery clerks, emergency medical service personnel, staff in congregate care facilities, police officers, fire-fighters, corrections officers, teachers, and more, receive the vaccine in as expeditious a manner as possible in order to decrease the risk of contagion for themselves and their families while being forced to report to work.”

The New York State legislature passed a bill earlier this month granting both public and private employees up to 4 hours of paid leave to receive their COVID-19 vaccination, though the measure has not yet been signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The legislation comes after some private companies, including Target and McDonalds, have announced that they will offer paid leave, and even transportation to vaccine sites, to employees who want to get vaccinated.

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Senate confirms Isabel Guzman to head up Small Business Administration

“I have every confidence that under Ms. Guzman’s leadership, the SBA will help small business owners hold onto their dreams until our economy comes roaring back.”

The Senate confirmed President Biden’s pick to run the U.S. Small Business Administration last night 81-17, installing Isabel Guzman at the head of the agency overseeing the PPP.

A former SBA official during the Obama Administration, Guzman will continue to oversee the COVID-19 aid program for small businesses. She has most recently served as the Director of California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate.

The Latest from Workest

It’s no secret that the pandemic has taken a toll on American workers’ mental health. Stress is up and reserves are down. As an employer, how should you respond when an employee discloses a mental health condition? Cinnamon Janzer explores the topic.

Tax day is coming fast. With just under 6 weeks to file, it’s almost crunch time. Use this convenient tax filing checklist to make sure all your ducks are in a row.

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

  1. Good news for real estate brokers, construction companies, and home furnishing stores: rising interest rates don’t seem to be cooling the white-hot housing market.
  2. Gender neutrality is a big topic right now. Here are tips for removing gendered language from your job posts.
  3. Congress has proposed new legislation to enact national “ban the box” laws that prohibit employers from asking applicants about past criminal convictions.
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