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NFIB Weekly News

NFIB Weekly News Leading the News

Small Business Optimism Dropped Sharply In December (01/12/2021)

NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index declined to 95.9 in December, a 5.5 point drop that puts the Index below 98, its average value since 1973. Small business job growth stayed steady but uneven in December, as certain sectors are experiencing a slowdown due to state-mandated business closures and reluctant consumer spending. NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg was quoted saying, “This month’s drop in small business optimism is historically very large and most of the decline was due to the outlook of sales and business conditions in 2021. ... Small businesses are concerned about potential new economic policy in the new administration and the increased spread of COVID-19 that is causing renewed government-mandated business closures across the nation.”

Small Businesses Prepare For Additional Round Of Federal Relief Loans (01/05/2021)

Bloomberg Tax (1/4) reported small businesses are preparing for another round of applications for federal relief loans. Bloomberg said, “Nearly half of small businesses would apply for a second PPP loan if eligible, and 22% of borrowers have or expect to have to lay off staff in the next six months, according to an early December survey of nearly 600 members of the National Federation of Independent Business.”

Economists Optimistic About Economic Growth, Job Creation In 2021 (01/05/2021)

The Wall Street Journal (1/3, Torry, Subscription Publication) reported economists it surveyed expect the Labor Department’s jobs report will show that employers added 68,000 new jobs in December, marking a decline from 245,000 a month earlier and the slowest month of the labor market recovery since May. However, economists also saw a number of reasons to be optimistic about the economy as the year moves forward. Economists cut their forecasts for economic growth and job creation in the first quarter of this year, but increased them for the second, third and fourth quarters.

Economic Recovery Stalling As Absenteeism Surges During Pandemic (01/05/2021)

Bloomberg (12/31, Rockeman) reported that amid increased unemployment during the pandemic, “another crucial problem in the labor market has gone mostly overlooked: Workers are calling out sick in record numbers this year.” Bloomberg said that whether it is “because they have Covid-19 themselves, are worried about getting it or are taking care of someone who already has it, the number of workers who’ve missed days on the job has doubled in the pandemic.” Bloomberg added that in contrast to the unemployment rate, “which has steadily declined from its April peak, the rate of absenteeism – as it is called by economists – has remained stubbornly high.”

House, Senate Pass Coronavirus Stimulus Deal (12/22/2020)

Politico (12/21, Ferris, Zanona, Desiderio) reports the bill “ultimately passed both chambers with overwhelming bipartisan majorities: 359-53 in the House and 92-6 in the Senate.” Politico adds President Trump “is expected to sign the mammoth bill into law, allowing at least some of the emergency aid to start flowing quickly.”

Bloomberg (12/21, Wasson, House, Litvan) reports the bill includes “direct payments of $600 to most Americans and $300 per week in enhanced unemployment benefits through March,” while “expiring programs for gig workers and the long-term unemployed also would continue,” plus “$284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides forgivable loans to small businesses.”

On ABC World News Tonight, Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl said the President “hasn’t been involved at all in crafting this bill, and we haven’t really heard anything from him all week. But the White House did put out a statement saying that it was welcome, the bill was welcomed, that the President would sign it shortly after it hits his desk.”

NFIB Survey: One In Four Small Businesses Will Close If Economic Conditions Don’t Improve (12/22/2020)

In Business Greater Phoenix (12/15) reported on the key findings of “NFIB’s 14th Small Business COVID-19 survey assessing the health crisis impact on small business operations, economic conditions, and utilization of the targeted small business loan programs.” Key findings included: “the majority of Paycheck Protection Program borrowers (91%) have spent their entire PPP loan. If eligible, 45% of small business owners would apply or re-apply for a second PPP loan and 33% would consider applying. Significantly more borrowers have submitted their PPP loan forgiveness application over the last month – 44% of owners have submitted one, up from 26% last month.” Thirty-six percent of PPP borrowers “are not yet ready to submit their forgiveness application and 20% are ready but their bank is not yet accepting them.” Almost half of small business owners “who have submitted a PPP loan forgiveness application have received final confirmation from the SBA and over three-fourths of them had 100% of their loan forgiven.”

Business Climate

IRS Offers Guidance On Deducting PPP Expenses (01/12/2021)

Accounting Today (1/6, Cohn) reported, “The Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department released guidance [Jan. 6] on claiming deductions for expenses associated with Paycheck Protection Program loans that have been forgiven.” The latest coronavirus relief bill “included a provision that allows the expenses to be deductible,” and “it will allow expenses related to seeking forgiveness of the Small Business Administration-backed loans to be deducted by businesses that received the loans, so businesses will be able to engage accountants to help with the task of applying for PPP loan forgiveness.”

Biden Will Nominate Isabel Guzman As SBA Administrator, NFIB Issues Statement On Selection (01/12/2021)

Reuters (1/7, Shalal, Lawder) reported that President-elect Joe Biden announced he will nominate Isabel Guzman, “a California state economic development official and small business advocate, to lead the Small Business Administration (SBA).”

The NFIB issued a statement on Guzman’s nomination, saying, “We welcome Isabel Guzman, the nominee to lead the SBA, as she knows the needs of small businesses well. Her record with our members in California demonstrates she has extensive knowledge of the SBA and lending issues. We look forward to the confirmation hearings and subsequently working with her on issues that are crucial to America’s small businesses.”

Paycheck Protection Program Reopened (01/12/2021)

Nation’s Restaurant News (1/8) reported the US Small Business Administration and Treasury Department said Friday it is reopening the Paycheck Protection Program on January 11 to certain new and existing borrowers. “This PPP round authorizes up to $284 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses through March 31. Some existing PPP borrowed can apply for a second draw of PPP loans as well.” Other key aspects of the updated program are covered.

SBA, Treasury Release Guidance For New PPP Round. The New York Times (1/7, Cowley) reported that the federal government has released updated rules “for the next round of Paycheck Protection Program [PPP] lending,” noting the stimulus package which Congress approved in December “included $284 billion for new loans through the small-business relief program.” During “this next round, the hardest-hit [businesses] – those whose sales have dropped at least 25 percent from before the pandemic – can qualify for a second loan. First-time borrowers will also be eligible for loans.”

Economists Forecast 2021 To Have Most Jobs Created In US Since 1939 (01/12/2021)

The Wall Street Journal (1/10, Morath, Subscription Publication) reported that according to IHS Markit, the US is likely to add more jobs this year than in any other since records began in 1939, though not likely enough to make up for the loss of jobs in the spring of 2020. IHS Markit projected a gain of 6.7 million jobs for the year, while Oxford Economics projected 5.8 million jobs, and University of Michigan economists projected 5.3 million. Though each projection would best the 4.3 million of 1946, the percentage gain would be around 5% compared to 11% in 1946.

Fed Presidents Discuss Economic Recovery Prospects (01/12/2021)

Reuters (1/8) reported Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida said last Friday the US economy is bound for an “impressive” year as the coronavirus vaccine potentially enables greater strength in the economy’s recovery and more potential stimulus from the incoming Biden Administration. Clarida said the central bank’s support for the economy would stay ramped up with interest rates low for years. He added that any change in the level of bond purchases was “well down the road.”

Reuters (1/7, Saphir) reported Chicago Fed President Charles Evans “said that if inflation does not look on track to return to 2% later this year, the U.S. central bank may need to do more with its asset purchase program to convince markets it is serious.” Evans said, “If unemployment is coming down to 5%, we are going to be making progress to getting inflation up to our 2% objective and beyond that (and) we may not need to do more in terms of asset purchases,” adding that if inflation became worrisome, he would “be advocating for stronger asset purchases.”

Congress Overrides Trump’s NDAA Veto (01/05/2021)

Bloomberg (1/1, Tiron, Wasson) reported that in an 81-13 vote on Friday, the Senate joined the House in overriding President Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The “defense bill authorizes $732 billion in discretionary spending for national defense, including $69 billion for overseas contingency operations. It also authorizes funding for 93 F-35 fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp.”

Small Business Marketing

Capital One Engages With Nonprofit Leaders On Supporting Small Businesses (01/12/2021)

In a piece for Dallas Innovates (TX) (1/7), Capital One spoke with nonprofit leaders on “the best ways to support small businesses right now.” Capital One has joined “a coalition of brands and nonprofit organizations” to launch Small Unites, “a national advocacy program that is providing ongoing support for small businesses across the U.S.” Capital One is “shining the spotlight on nonprofits supporting food and hunger relief, workforce development, digital access and small business support.” It added, “Through our $50 million commitment to address the rapidly changing needs of our communities during this pandemic, Capital One remains committed to make a positive impact for change.”

Commentary: Future Innovations In Payments In 2021 (01/05/2021)

In a piece for PYMNTS (1/4), Markey Platform Dynamics CEO Karen Webster provided an “organizing framework for how innovation in payments, commerce and the broader connected economy will play out in 2021, and will influence changes in the years to come.” She says, “the connected economy – with innovations across [how we live, work, pay, shop, stay connected, stay healthy, bank, travel, eat, and spend our leisure time] – would reshape how business gets done, with payments as the fuel that supports new business models and ways to monetize those new ways of engaging.”

Burton Pens Op-ed With Tips For Small Business Owners (12/22/2020)

In an op-ed for Texas Border Business (12/15), SBA official Angela Burton gave four tips to small business owners during the holiday season. She recommended business owners “make it personal,” “think global,” collect accounts receivable “on time,” and “be creative.” Burton added, “Small business is the heartbeat of the local economy. The effects of championing small businesses reach far beyond the company doors. When small businesses succeed, we all succeed.”

HPE, Dell Tout New Pay-Per-Use Business Model For Data Centers (12/22/2020)

Business Insider (12/11) reported HPE and Dell “say a new pay-per-use business model, in which they charge clients only for the capacity they use in data center gear, is starting to pay off.” This approach “helps give cloud-like flexibility to customers who don’t or can’t move to the public cloud, which helps the data center hardware makers stay relevant in a market dominated by Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.” The article adds, “HPE and Dell, as well as other traditional enterprise players such as IBM and Cisco, are eyeing new trends, called hybrid cloud and multicloud, in which businesses set up networks on one or more public clouds, while maintaining huge chunks of their data and applications in private data centers.”

Merchants Face Challenges In Long-term Recovery (12/22/2020)

Payments Source (12/17) reported, “As with last winter, merchants today are being inundated with payment technology options from traditional acquirers and neobanks, all of which promise to help them weather the coronavirus pandemic. Ultimately, whatever options banks and fintechs deliver for this next phase of the pandemic must appease not only the merchants but their customers as well.” The piece explains that “challenger banks and fintechs are also approaching B2B procurement and helping brick-and-mortar businesses adjust to digital. Square, PayPal and Stripe have all accelerated strategies that enable credit for small businesses based on payment flows, as well as ancillary services that enable non e-commerce businesses to embrace remote ordering and payments.”

Americans Spent $19.8 Billion On Small Business Saturday (12/15/2020)

The Cumberland (MD) Times-News (12/9) reported, “American consumers spent an estimated $19.8 billion at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday, according to data recently released by American Express, up from $19.6 billion from last year.” SBA Regional Administrator Steve Bulger said, “Small Business Saturday’s success is proof of the economic benefits of supporting our locally owned small businesses. Most survey respondents who shopped on Small Business Saturday say shopping at small, independently owned businesses supports their commitment to making purchases that have a positive social, economic, and environmental impact.”

The Lower Bucks (NJ) Times (12/10) reported that SBA Eastern Pennsylvania Deputy District Director Michael Kane said, “Small local businesses are the largest employers nationally. They are responsible for producing 2 out of every 3 new jobs each year and for generating more than 40 percent of private sector payroll. Half of all working Americans either own or work for a small business. These small business owners and workers live in the local community and are vested in their community’s welfare and future. Supporting small business is a smart choice every day.”

Wages and Benefits

Unemployment Claims Slipped To 787K Last Week (01/12/2021)

The AP (1/7, Rugaber) reported the Labor Department said Thursday that initial claims for unemployment aid “fell slightly to 787,000” last week, “evidence of a job market stumbling in the face of the viral pandemic and the damage it has inflicted on the economy for nearly 10 months.” The New York Times (1/7, Cohen) said the fact that new claims for benefits “remained high last week” is “the latest evidence that the pandemic-racked economy still has a lot of lost ground to make up in the new year.”

US Lost Jobs In December, First Monthly Decline Since April (01/12/2021)

The AP (1/8, Rugaber) reported that the Labor Department revealed on Friday that the US “shed jobs last month for the first time since April, cutting 140,000 positions,” which the AP said is “clear evidence that the economy is faltering as the viral pandemic tightens its grip on consumers and businesses.” However, “at the same time, the unemployment rate stayed at 6.7%.” According to the AP, “Friday’s figures from the Labor Department depict a sharply uneven job market, with losses concentrated among restaurants, bars, hotels and entertainment venues, many of them affecting low-income employees.”

However, according to Bloomberg (1/8, Rockeman), “Retail, professional and business services, construction and manufacturing all posted solid job gains, indicating much of the economy continues its gradual return to health.” Bloomberg added that “in another positive sign, the number of unemployed Americans who permanently lost a job declined to a four-month low of 3.37 million,” but the New York Times (1/8, Casselman) highlighted that “nearly four million Americans had been out of work for more than six months,” which the Times says is “economists’ standard threshold for long-term unemployment,” and “was up by 27,000 from November, and roughly quadruple the number before the pandemic began.”

Labor Department: New Jobless Claims Down 19,000 (01/05/2021)

The AP (12/31, Crutsinger) reported, “The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits last week fell by 19,000 to 787,000, still a historically high level as a resurgent coronavirus maintains its grip on the U.S. economy. While at the lowest level in four weeks,” the figures released Thursday “are nearly four times higher than last year at this time.” The New York Times (12/31, Schwartz) reported, “There were 841,000 new claims for state benefits, compared with 873,000 the previous week. Another 308,000 people filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federally funded program for part-time workers, the self-employed and others ordinarily ineligible for jobless benefits.”

The Wall Street Journal (12/31, Mackrael, Subscription Publication) said weekly jobless claims figures are often volatile during the holiday season due to seasonal hiring. The Journal also says uncertainty over the fate of the COVID relief bill may have been influencing hiring decisions.

Growing Number Of States, Cities Raise Minimum Wage To $15/Hour (01/05/2021)

The New York Times (12/31, Friedman) reported that on Friday, 20 states “and 32 cities and counties will raise their minimum wage. In 27 of these places, the pay floor will reach or exceed $15 an hour, according to a report released on Thursday by the National Employment Law Project, which supports minimum-wage increases.”

Unemployment Claims Rise For Second Consecutive Week (12/22/2020)

The Wall Street Journal (12/17, Cambon, Subscription Publication) reported the Labor Department said Thursday that unemployment claims increased for the second consecutive week to 885,000 for the week ended Dec. 12. The AP (12/17, Wiseman) said the number, which is up “from 862,000 the previous week,” showed “that nine months after the virus paralyzed the economy, many employers are still slashing jobs as the pandemic forces more business restrictions and leads many consumers to stay home.” The Washington Post (12/17, Rosenberg) said it marks “a high not seen since the end of the summer, as negotiations for stimulus funding continue in Washington.”

EEOC Issues Guidelines Sayings Employers Can Require Employees To Receive A Coronavirus Vaccine (12/22/2020)

The New York Times (12/18, Patel) reported the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidelines saying that employers can require employees to receive a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and prohibit them from coming to the workplace if they refuse to receive the vaccine. The article adds, “Employers had been waiting for guidance from the [EEOC]...because requiring employees be tested for the coronavirus touches on thorny medical and privacy issues covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990.”

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