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:
- New unemployment claims increase last week
- The best and worst states for unemployment
- Consumer confidence takes a hit as coronavirus cases rise
- Employers offer unique benefits to help struggling parents during pandemic
New unemployment claims increase last week
“It’s hard to believe the recession is over if workers keep losing their jobs at this rate.”
Economists are concerned that this number is increasing at the same time that many workers are exhausting state and local benefits. Overall, the number of unemployed people across the country is 3 times the number for the same time period last year.
While millions of Americans wait to see if Congress will extend any of COVID benefit programs set to expire the day after Christmas, President-elect Joe Biden has signaled his intention to make economic recovery a top priority by naming former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen his choice to replace outgoing Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged to 300,000 in response to this announcement.
Speaking of Steve Mnuchin and his negotiating partner, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, more than 125 economists have banded together to write and sign a letter urging Congress to send out more stimulus checks.
The best and worst states for unemployment
“The unemployment rate fell in 37 states and the District of Columbia. It rose in eight states, and held steady in five.”
While the overall national trend in unemployment moved in the wrong direction, it’s worth noting that certain states — like those heavily dependent on tourism — have taken a harder hit than others.
For instance, Hawaii’s unemployment rate of 14.3% is more than twice the national average of 6.9%, while more rural states like Utah, Iowa, Nebraska, Vermont, and South Dakota all come in below the national average.
Consumer confidence takes a hit as coronavirus cases rise
“We think the sharp rise in positive coronavirus cases nationwide, which has prompted new restrictions and shutdowns in many states, has led consumers to be more fearful of what lies ahead for them and their families as we head into the year-end holiday season.”
Many businesses depend on the holiday season to make up revenue shortfalls for the rest of the year (hence the belief that “Black Friday” is the day that businesses finally move from being in the red), but a recent report on consumer confidence is enough to strike fear in the hearts of many small business owners.
According to recent research by the Conference Board, consumer confidence has dropped sharply, indicating that many Americans have a pessimistic outlook about income, business, and labor market conditions.
Employers offer unique benefits to help struggling parents during pandemic
“When our employees feel like their well-being is cared for, and when our employees can be their best, then they can do their best work for Ford.”
If good talent is hard to find and keep during the best of times, it’s especially true now as the pandemic forces many working parents to juggle enormous home life responsibilities with work expectations.
In order to support working parents, many companies have started offering special benefits aimed at easing the burden of employees struggling to do their job while supervising their children’s distance learning. Perks such as childcare subsidies, flexible hours, and online learning resources for employees’ children are designed to help workers cope with the demands of pandemic parenting.
The Latest from Workest
Perks for working parents aren’t the only way that businesses can show appreciation and support for employee dedication and hard work during tough times. Check out this list of suggestions for low cost ways to recognize employees during the holiday season.
And since most in-person holiday parties will get the axe this year, consider suggestions from small business owners on how to make the season special for employees when you can’t celebrate together.
Finally, before we say goodbye for the week, here are 3 things you should know:
- Over 2.5 million people used “123456” as their password this year, which takes hackers less than 1 second to crack.
- United States turkey growers raised 222 million turkeys this year, down 3% from 2019, while 70% of households plan on celebrating with 6 people or fewer this year.
- The French government has canceled Black Friday this year in response to angry small business owners who claim Amazon is stealing their business during the pandemic.