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NFIB Weekly News

NFIB Weekly News Leading the News

House Approves Bill Easing Restrictions On PPP Loans (06/02/2020)

Reuters (5/28, Cowan) reported that the House passed legislation “increasing the amount of time, to 24 weeks from the current eight-week deadline, for small businesses to use Paycheck Protection Program loans.”

McConnell: Next Coronavirus Relief Bill Is Going To Be Last One (06/02/2020)

The Hill (5/29, Carney) reported Senate Majority Leader McConnell “said on Friday that the next potential relief bill will be the final coronavirus stimulus legislation.” To reporters in Kentucky, McConnell said, “We’re taking a careful look at a fourth and final bill. You can anticipate the decision being made on whether to go forward in about a month. It will be narrowly crafted.” The Hill added that McConnell’s “prediction that the so-called ‘phase four’ bill would be the final economic package comes as lawmakers are nowhere near a deal that could pass both chambers and get President Trump’s support.”

Worker Retention Tax Credit Receives Bipartisan Interest (06/02/2020)

The Hill (5/31, Jagoda) reported, “Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are expressing interest in expanding a tax credit designed to help keep workers connected to their jobs, a sign that the idea could find its way into the next coronavirus relief package.” NFIB federal government relations manager Courtney Titus-Brooks was quoted saying, “We’d like to make sure those who are still shut down or are struggling to reopen can still keep employees on payroll.”

Analysis: PPP Failed To Get Money To Industries And Areas Most In Need (06/02/2020)

ThinkAdvisor (5/27) reported, “Based on the limited data available since the second round of the U.S. Paycheck Protection Program started, it seems a larger number of small loans have been approved than during the first round – and they are reaching a wider range of businesses.” S&P chief economist Beth Ann Bovino found, however, a “glaring flaw” in the SBA program, writing: “At this point in time the bulk of the programs seem to lean toward benefiting states with fewer jobless claims,” adding, “And based on small business surveys, it’s apparent that more help is wanted (and needed).”

Treasury Makes It Easier For Small Businesses To Avoid Needing To Repay PPP Loans (05/19/2020)

The New York Times (5/15, Flitter) reported the Treasury Department on Friday “made it slightly easier for small-business owners to avoid having to repay government-backed loans they took out under a program designed to keep them from laying off employees and permanently closing.” While the terms seemed to loosen a requirement that companies “rehire a certain percentage of their employees in order to obtain forgiveness,” they did not eliminate “a requirement that many business found onerous: At least three-quarters of the money must be spent on payroll expenses and the rest on rent and utility bills.”

Small Business Owner’s PPP Struggle Detailed (05/19/2020)

TIME (5/13, Elliott) profiled rare books dealer Arthur Fournier’s experience with the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Fournier “was one of thousands of small business owners who applied for PPP money, and quickly found themselves way outside their comfort zone.” After finding difficulty acquiring a loan through fintech Ready Capital, he “decided to try another route, through PayPal, which was also offering non-bank-based loans.” But because “the Small Business Administration already had a record of his application from Ready Capital and had assigned his business an identification number, Fournier couldn’t apply with another lender. Washington was trying to prevent the same business from taking multiple loans, but in effect he was trapped in Ready Capital’s system that was at best sluggish and at worst over-extended.”

Business Climate

Commerce Department: Consumer Spending Crashed In April Despite $3T Federal Stimulus (06/02/2020)

Reuters (5/29, Mutikani) reported, “U.S. consumers cut spending by the most on record for the second straight month in April while boosting savings to an all-time high.” According to Reuters, “The growing frugality reinforced expectations the economy could take years to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.” Reuters added, “The report from the Commerce Department on Friday also showed an economy highly reliant on the government, with financial aid checks from a historic fiscal package worth nearly $3 trillion driving a record surge in personal income.”

Demand For PPP Loans Has Slowed (06/02/2020)

NPR (5/28, Kurtzleben) reported on the SBA’s PPP program, noting there was a “mad dash for the first [round], $349 billion round of PPP money, which was gone in 13 days. This second round, of $310 billion, is going much more slowly, and still has more than $140 billion left one month later.” Small business owners have, for the most part, gotten the money they want, while other business owners “have decided it’s just not for them.”

Opinion: SBA Should Not Exclude Small Business Owners With Criminal Records From PPP Loans (06/02/2020)

In a piece for Forbes (5/27, Sibilla), Nick Sibilla wrote the PPP loan program included “several ‘interim final rules’ that unfairly deny loans to countless entrepreneurs.” In a letter earlier this month, the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago “blasted the SBA’s ‘exclusionary provisions,’ which threaten to ‘arbitrarily wipe out all that these entrepreneurs have built.’” Sibilla wrote small business owners with criminal records should have access to PPP funds. He added, “Fortunately, the SBA’s regulations have triggered a massive backlash that cuts across partisan lines.”

Trump Expresses Optimism For US Economic Recovery (06/02/2020)

The Washington Times (5/29, Howell) reported President Trump “said Friday he’s optimistic about the path forward for the U.S. amid the coronavirus pandemic, citing an accelerated push for a vaccine and declining transmission after a month-plus of shutdown orders.” The Times said that while Trump “acknowledged ‘we have now a long way to go’ after the death toll exceeded 100,000,” the President “said he’s optimistic about therapeutics and the development of a vaccine, citing the military’s role in guiding logistics as products get approved.”

White House Will Not Release Economic Forecast This Summer (06/02/2020)

The AP (5/28, Taylor) reported that the White House “will not release its official midyear economic update this summer, declining to put its stamp on data documenting the plunge into recession during the coronavirus pandemic and avoiding going on record with a prediction about the economy’s future.” The AP added that “a significant decline in tax receipts as well as outlays from almost $3 trillion in coronavirus-related aid bills are sure to produce a multitrillion-dollar government deficit for the budget year ending Sept. 30. But the White House maintains that the underlying economic data would be too uncertain to convey a meaningful picture about the recovery.”

US Consumer Prices See Largest Decline Since 2008 (05/19/2020)

Reuters (5/12, Mutikani) reported, “US consumer prices dropped by the most since the Great Recession in April, weighed down by a plunge in demand for gasoline and services including airline travel as Americans stayed home during the coronavirus crisis.” The Labor Department report also “showed a record decrease in underlying prices last month, raising the specter of a bout of deflation as the economy sinks deeper into a recession.” USA Today (5/12, Davidson) warned that “low prices don’t do much good if consumers aren’t spending. What’s more, deflation is not good for the economy,” as “it prompts people to put off purchases on the expectation that prices will fall further, hurting economic growth.”

Small Business Marketing

How Small Businesses Are Changing Amid Pandemic (06/02/2020)

As part of its “Owning the Future” series on how small businesses are coping with the coronavirus, The New York Times (5/26, Hanc) featured the changes Matt Sulam has made to his personal training business following shelter-in-place orders. The publication described how Atlas transitioned to video calling with his clients and established an online payment account through his bank for “easy bulling and payment for his sessions.” Lasell University professor Nancy Waldron recommended that small business owners take initiative upon themselves in this time of uncertainty, and improve their ability to run their business digitally.

How Business Can Start Selling Online (06/02/2020)

Entrepreneur Magazine (5/29, Popomaronis) provided tips for how business can begin selling their goods online during the pandemic. Because “recent statistics report that 40 percent of customers prefer to shop online to save themselves time, now is as good a time as ever to get your online store up and running.”

FTC Warns Small Businesses To Watch For Scams Relating To PPP Or EDIL Programs (06/02/2020)

The Nashville (TN) Business Journal (6/1, Subscription Publication) reports, “Phishing emails are the leading cause of business data breaches, and according to Google, scammers are sending 18 million hoax emails about Covid-19 to Gmail users every day.” The article adds, “The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns small businesses to watch for scams relating to SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) program. Scammers are sending phishing emails hoping to trick people into giving them sensitive business information, like bank account numbers and employees’ Social Security numbers.”

Small Businesses Switch From Big Banks To PayPal For SBA Loans (05/19/2020)

Bloomberg (5/12) reported, “as millions of entrepreneurs adapt to survive the coronavirus pandemic, many are ending their relationships with major banks that can’t keep pace with more nimble upstarts.” In the first few weeks of the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, “giants such as Wells Fargo & Co. and Bank of America Corp. lagged behind in handling applications, leaving desperate applicants to explore alternate sources of financial help. Some found it.”

Papa John’s Founder: Three Traits For Small Businesses To Thrive Again (05/19/2020)

Papa John’s Founder John Schnatter wrote an opinion piece in Fox Business (5/13, Schnatter) on “three traits all small business owners must apply if your goal is not simply to survive – but to actually thrive – in the largely unpredictable times that lie ahead.” They include extraordinary effort, enthusiasm, and being entrepreneurial. Schnatter said, “daily and weekly changes will have to be closely monitored and adjustments made quickly once we know more as economies reopen.”

USAToday Profiles Latino Small Business Owners (05/19/2020)

USA Today (5/13) reported in depth on Latino small business owners, which are “the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S. even as they battle systemic racism that has resulted in lower incomes and loan rates.” The article added, “Over the past 10 years, the number of Latino business owners grew 34%, compared to 1% for all business owners in the United States.”

Wages and Benefits

Weekly Jobless Claims Continue To Decline (06/02/2020)

Reuters (5/28, Mutikani) reported that “the number of Americans seeking jobless benefits fell for an eighth straight week last week, likely as some people returned to work, but claims remained at astonishingly high levels, suggesting it could take the economy a while to rebound as businesses reopen.” The Labor Department’s “weekly jobless claims report on Thursday, the most timely data on the economy’s health, also showed a decline in the number of people receiving unemployment checks in mid-May” However, Reuters said, “the data...excludes gig workers and others collecting benefits under a federal government program.”

NYTimes Analysis: End Of Pandemic Aid Worries Unemployed, Economists (06/02/2020)

The New York Times (5/28, A1, Casselman) reported that with the coming end of the aid programs under the CARES Act, many will be in a difficult situation, and while the House “passed a $3 trillion package this month,” it has “no chance of becoming law as written,” and Senate Majority Leader McConnell on Thursday said the Senate will likely consider more aid “about a month from now.” The Times said Republican leaders are concerned that “extra unemployment benefits and other assistance” may be “an incentive not to return to work.” However, many economists are concerned that ending extra benefits would reduce spending, and that jobs will not be available in sufficient numbers.

Additional 3M Americans Applied For Unemployment Last Week (05/19/2020)

The AP (5/14, Rugaber) reported that the Labor Department revealed last Thursday that “nearly 3 million laid-off workers applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week as the viral outbreak led more companies to slash jobs even though most states have begun to let some businesses reopen under certain restrictions.” The AP said “roughly 36 million people have now filed for jobless aid in the two months since the coronavirus first forced millions of businesses to close their doors and shrink their workforces.” The AP said that “an additional 842,000 people applied for aid last week through a separate federal program set up for the self-employed and gig workers.”

Analysis: Many “Essential” Workers Will See Pay Cuts As Companies Rescind “Hazard Pay” Policies (05/19/2020)

Bloomberg (5/14, Melin, Steverman) reported many “essential” employees in the US will be facing a pay cut in the coming weeks as the initial push for “hazard pay” around the pandemic begins to fade. Initially, many employees “received bonuses or pay bumps to compensate for the risk that comes with clocking in at supermarkets, hospitals and other crowded workplaces during a pandemic,” but companies are beginning to end these programs. For example, Kroger “is rescinding the” pay “raise it gave to store and warehouse workers” while Target and Amazon “will follow later this month, with other firms charting similar moves.” The planned cutbacks “have rankled unions, employees and customers who are accusing companies of putting profits ahead of worker well-being.” The decisions “also raise questions about how to value the essential workers who are keeping society functioning,” as many employees “put their health and safety on the line in exchange for relatively low wages.”

33.5 Million Have Applied For Unemployment Benefits In Past Seven Weeks (05/12/2020)

The AP (5/7, Rugaber) reported that the Labor Department revealed on Thursday that “nearly 3.2 million laid-off workers applied for unemployment benefits last week,” which means that “roughly 33.5 million people have now filed for jobless aid in the seven weeks since the coronavirus began forcing millions of companies to close their doors and slash their workforces.” The AP said “that is the equivalent of one in five Americans who had been employed back in February, when the unemployment rate had reached a 50-year low of just 3.5%.” On the other hand, “Initial claims for unemployment aid have now fallen for five straight weeks.”

Media Analyses: It May Take Years For Unemployment Rate To Return To Normal (05/12/2020)

The AP (5/6, Boak) reported that the payroll company ADP announced Wednesday that US employers “cut an unprecedented 20.2 million jobs in April, an epic collapse with coronavirus outbreak closing the offices, factories, schools, construction sites and stores that propel the U.S. economy.” According to the AP, Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, is predicting that “the losses will likely continue through May, with a recovery in hiring likely to begin in the months that follow.” The Washington Post (5/6, Telford) reported that “as bleak as these numbers appear, it is likely that the worst is still to come.”

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