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 Weekly Highlights

Man fills in Unemployment benefits application form.

11 states end participation in expanded federal unemployment benefits

“My decision is based on a fundamental conservative principle — we do not want people on unemployment. We want people working.”

More than 20% of states in the United States are opting out of the federal government’s expanded unemployment benefit program. So far, 11 states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wyoming, have announced that they will end participation in the COVID-related unemployment relief program in June or July.

State leaders point to the difficulty that business owners have had filling vacancies as the reason for ending the additional $300 per week payments. Other states have announced that workers will need to submit proof that they’ve applied for jobs in order to continue receiving payments.

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April job gains fall short of economists’ estimates

“We estimate roughly 1.6 million workers want a job but didn’t look for a job recently because they were still concerned about contracting the virus, or other factors around the pandemic.”

The U.S. economy added 266,000 non-farm payroll jobs in April, falling far short of economists’ estimates. The unemployment rate also rose slightly to 6.1%, causing further consternation about the state of the economy.

Fed officials cited the news as part of the reason that it will continue to keep interest rates low for the foreseeable future, despite concerns about inflation following a 4.2% jump in the price of consumer goods last month.

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1 in 6 Americans stay at their job for healthcare benefits

With millions of workers staying in unwanted jobs for the health benefits, concerns run high among all adults that the rising cost of care will persist to the point of being unaffordable.”

Approximately 158 million Americans (equal to roughly half the population of American adults) receive health insurance through their job or from a family member’s job. A recent poll found that 1 out of 6 Americans is staying at a job they would otherwise leave in order to keep their benefits.

The research indicates that this is especially true for Black workers and for people working at jobs that pay $48,000 per year or less.

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Small Business Optimism Index rises as employers continue to experience labor shortage

“Small business owners are seeing a growth in sales but are stunted by not having enough workers.”

Same song … we’ve lost track of what verse. The National Federation of Independent Business saw its small business optimism index rise again last month, while a record high of 44% of respondents reported that they have open positions that can not be filled.

American workers grapple with anxiety about heading back to the workplace

“There’s also the anxiety of, ‘I had to make all these adjustments to my life because my kids weren’t in school. Now it’s like, ‘What do I do now if I have to go back to work?'”

As the number of fully vaccinated American adults continues to grow, employers are signaling that it’s time for employees to return to the workplace, causing anxiety for many employees.

While many people are hesitant about being in close quarters with others no matter their vaccine status, experts also point to the toll that the isolation and stress of the past year took on employee mental health as part of the reason that 52% of people report that they’d rather stay home permanently.

Furthermore, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has failed to issue return-to-work guidelines, leaving employers to create policies from the patchwork of state and local regulations.

The Latest from Workest

As workers grapple with anxiety about returning to the post-pandemic workplace, it’s important for employers to find ways to ease the transition. This week, Catherine Tansey explores How to Prepare Your Employees for a Sudden Return to Work for Workest.

For a deeper dive into pandemic-related SMB insights, check out the results of our recent survey of more than 1000 small businesses.

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

  1. Zoom fatigue is real … so real, in fact, that the CEO of Zoom reports that he has a case of it himself.
  2. Paid time off for participating in peaceful protests? Check out this list of employee benefits that employers are using to create a more supportive work culture.

It seems like supply chain disruptions are impacting just about everyone these days. Things are so bad, In fact, that Chick-fil-A is only handing out one dipping sauce per order.

Check out our People Ops Podcast episode “Should we keep flexible work arrangements as COVID vaccine rates rise?”

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