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Small businesses are losing confidence in their survival as federal relief runs dry

Data: Goldman Sachs; Chart: Axios Visuals

Small businesses have largely exhausted their federal funding and are starting to lay off workers, with many worrying about having to shut their doors for good, according to a new survey from Goldman Sachs provided exclusively to Axios.

Why it matters: Business still has not returned to normal, six months after the coronavirus pandemic first appeared in U.S. But small firms say the money they received from the Paycheck Protection Program has run dry.


In a survey of 860 Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses alumni, conducted Sept. 1-2, 88% of the small business owners say they have used all of their PPP loan funding.

  • 32% of loan recipientshave already been forced to lay off employees or cut wages.
  • About 95%of the companies surveyed by Goldman said they had been approved for PPP funding.

The good news: The pandemic has not been as bad as many businesses had feared and most are now up and running.

  • Nearly three-quarters of the businesses surveyed say they are fully open, up from just 39% in April and 53% in May.
  • And just 2% of businesses say they are temporarily closed, compared to 19% in April.
  • 25% of businesses say that the pandemic has greatly hurt their finances, down from 33% in April.
  • 21% say the pandemic has not hurt their personal finances, up from 14% in April.

The bad news: About a third of small businesses Goldman surveyed said they had already laid off workers, and 36% say if no new funding comes from Congress soon they will lay off workers or cut back hours.

  • Without additional government funds, 30% say they will exhaust all of their cash reserves by year end.
  • 16% say less than a quarter of their pre-COVID revenue has returned thus far.
  • The 65% of owners who believe their business will survive is the lowest percentage recorded in the survey thus far, down from 73% in July and 68% in April.

What we're hearing: Small business owners "have made their position clear — they need more legislative support and there is no time to waste,” a Goldman Sachs spokesperson tells Axios.

The intrigue: The owners blame both sides of the aisle in Washington for the inaction on new relief measures.

  • When asked who is responsible, 53% blame both parties, while 18% blame Congressional Democrats and 16% blame Congressional Republicans.
  • Just 8% blame President Trump.

Between the lines: Data show Black-owned businesses face an even steeper climb.

  • 43% say they their business’s cash reserves will be depleted by year end if Congress does not act in September, compared to 30% of respondents overall.
  • 31% say less than a quarter of their pre-COVID revenue has returned.

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