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Poll: Small Businesses Grow More Cautious About Investments and Hiring as COVID-19 Delta Variant Spreads

  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife poll finds fewer small businesses plan to ramp up investments in their company in the coming year
  • Business owners are more likely to maintain investments and staffing levels as the new wave of COVID-19 infections creates greater uncertainty
  • Survey respondents are generally optimistic, but also face challenges with revenues, inflation, and supply chain disruptions

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

Small business owners are largely upbeat about their current situation but are less bullish about hiring or expansion plans due to a new surge in COVID-19 infections, according to a poll from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife.

The poll, conducted between July 16 and July 30, found that 66 percent of businesses were satisfied with their cash flow. Fifty-eight percent said they think their revenues will improve over the next year, while 55 percent said they think their business is in good health.

At the same time, the share of small business owners planning to increase their investments fell from 35 percent in a survey in the first quarter of the year to 29 percent. Sixty-two percent said they plan to maintain their current staffing levels, up 10 points from the Q1 2021 survey.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says business owners have been benefiting from eased business restrictions, higher consumer demand, and vaccination efforts. However, they also face ongoing challenges in finding workers, higher prices, and supply chain issues in addition to the new wave of COVID-19 infections.

  • 48 percent plan to keep their business investments the same over the next year, up 11 points from Q1 2021
  • The share of respondents considering the United States economy to be good rose to its highest point since the start of the pandemic, but still stands at only 34 percent
  • 34 percent said revenue is their biggest challenges, followed by COVID-19 protocols and compliance (23 percent), supply chain issues (19 percent), inflation (19 percent), and a lack of job applicants (11 percent)
  • 73 percent said rising prices have had significant impact on their business in the past year, while 72 say it’s been difficult to manage higher costs due to inflation

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