Small businesses support bold investments in child care and paid leave, share views on mask and vaccine requirements
As Congress debates a bipartisan infrastructure plan and a larger $3.5 trillion investment in “human infrastructure,” Small Business Majority surveyed its network to understand their views on key issues being considered such as child care and paid family and medical leave. The survey also examined how small businesses are navigating mask and vaccination requirements, as an increase in coronavirus cases becomes a concern for employers and local economies.
The survey reflects the opinions of 548 small business owners from Small Business Majority’s network. Approximately 78% of respondents are self-employed, or owners of businesses with 10 or fewer employees. The sample also consists of a large portion of women-owned businesses (62%) and minority-owned businesses (52%).
In addition to gauging small businesses’ views on current topics, the survey also examined the state of small business recovery. While business conditions are improving for some, a significant number of small businesses are enduring a long road to recovery. The survey found nearly 1 in 5 businesses (19%) say their business conditions are on the decline compared to the previous month, while 28% say they are neither improving nor declining. This is holding steady compared to our May survey, in which 22% of small businesses said their business operations were on the decline, and 30% were unable to grow. Additionally, 27% of businesses reported they may not survive past the next six months without additional funding or market changes.
These findings highlight a need for ongoing support for hard-hit small businesses, and current policies being debated by Congress may help support the recovery of owners and their employees.
The survey found broad support for provisions that are being included as part of this legislative package that would help families cover basic expenses by lowering the cost of early education and investing in child care and paid family and medical leave. This includes the following measures:
- Ensuring that families earning 1.5 times their state median income pay no more than 7% of their income on childcare for all children under the age of 5 (63% support)
- Increasing tax credits to support families with child care needs by making the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit expansion permanent (68% support)
- Making sure child care workers are paid at least $15/hour (65% support)
- Providing access to medical leave (73% support) and parental leave (67% support)
Meanwhile, as mask mandates are shifting in parts of the country due to a rise in COVID-19 cases, small businesses have been balancing safety concerns with resuming normal business activities. Our survey examined how small businesses are navigating vaccination requirements for their staff and customers, as well as their views on mask mandates.
- 1 in 4 small business owners are requiring all or some of their employees to get vaccinated
- Nearly 3 in 10 (28%) are requiring all their employees to continue wearing masks
- An additional 1 in 4 small businesses are requiring customers to wear a mask at all times, even when there is no mask mandate in their state or municipality and 23% are requiring masks for unvaccinated customers
Our survey also sheds a light on how business owners are accessing the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance program, which provides small-dollar grants to eligible small businesses in low to moderate-income communities.
- More than two-thirds of small businesses in our network (67%) reported they received an email from the SBA inviting them to apply for the advance, and 62% of those applied for the program.
- Of those who applied, 49% received an advance, 28% were awaiting a decision from the SBA, and 23% were denied.
- The majority of those who were declined said that they were denied the advance due to the fact that they are not located in an eligible low-to-moderate income area or that they could not demonstrate a 30% reduction in revenue to qualify for the grant.