The White House is encouraging Americans to shop Small Business Saturday after nearly two years of the coronavirus pandemic.
Since the first cases of COVID-19 began to pop up in the U.S. in 2020, small businesses have worked to modify their operations to remain profitable, whether those modifications meant changing indoor store layouts, improving websites or coming up with unique ways to serve food while indoor dining was banned.
“Last year, shoppers came together in full force to support their local communities, and Small Business Saturday hit a record high with an estimated $19.8 billion in reported spending,” the White House said in a Friday statement. “This year, holiday consumer spending is projected to break new records.”
The White House also touted its efforts to help small businesses amid COVID-19 through President Biden’s American Rescue Plan — a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill — and “other traditional loan programs.”
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“This year, SBA has overseen the distribution of nearly $416.3 billion in emergency relief aid to more than 6 million impacted small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program ($280 billion), Restaurant Revitalization Fund ($28.6 billion), Shuttered Venue Operators Grant ($13.4 billion), COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program ($88 billion), and COVID EIDL Targeted and Supplemental Advance programs ($6.3 billion combined),” the White House said.
In fiscal year 2021, the Small Business Administration (SBA) delivered $44.8 billion in funding to small businesses through more than 61,000 loans.
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The White House added that the relief has “directly helped small businesses stay open and keep workers on payrolls, especially for those owned by our underserved, including women, people of color, veterans, and rural and low-income communities.”
The Federal Reserve published a study in April of 2021 estimating that about 200,000 more U.S. businesses closed in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic compared to the number of businesses that closed in years prior.
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Businesses have also struggled to hire and retain workers, with a record-high 4.4 million workers quitting their jobs in September, according to the Labor Department’s Job Opening and Labor Turnover Survey.
The October employment report released earlier this month showed hiring picked up last month with employers adding 531,000 workers, up from 312,000 in September. The unemployment rate slipped 0.2 percentage points to 4.6%.
Fox Business’ Jonathan Garber contributed to this report.