On Thursday, Florida TaxWatch (FTW) released “The Backbone of the Economy: How Small Businesses in Florida Have Fared During the Pandemic.”
The briefing outlines how Florida’s 2.7 million small businesses – which employ 3.5 million employees or roughly 41.7 percent of the private workforce – have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Small business employment is highest in the Accommodation and Food Services, Health Care and Social Assistance, and Construction sectors. The Leisure and Hospitality sector has been most severely impacted by COVID-19, with approximately 50 percent of the small businesses open in January 2020 now reportedly closed. Similarly, small businesses in the Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation subsector reported an average of 14 missed work weeks and revenue loss of over 66 percent since the onset of the pandemic.
Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic Calabro weighed in on the briefing on Thursday.
“With the steep decline in tourism and a widespread transition to e-commerce, Florida’s small businesses have been seriously struggling and even lagging behind broader economic recovery, despite their high concentration in the state. At the end of March of this year, their revenue was down 31 percent relative to the beginning of 2020. Policymakers and local leaders need to understand that supporting small businesses – which are often owned and/or operated by minorities, women, and veterans – is critical to reversing the downturn we’ve all recently experienced and allowing Floridians to truly thrive once again,” Calabro said.
Many small businesses in Florida entered the pandemic with low financial resilience, few cash reserves, and limited access to capital, making economic recovery more challenging. However, the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provided substantial aid, with small businesses across the state receiving 579,000 loans totaling over $41 billion. Still, this aid ultimately postpones financial pressures, rather than eliminating them.