Sep 22, 2022 - Business

Massachusetts small business struggles persist

Illustration of an empty cash register with it's display flashing "HELP".
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Massachusetts small businesses owners say they're still struggling financially more than two years after the COVID-19 pandemic began, despite many receiving federal relief money.

Driving the news: More than half (53%) of small business owners said in a new poll they're bringing in less revenue now than before the pandemic.

  • Yes, but: Larger shares of nonwhite business owners said funding and inflation-related cost increases were major concerns, per the MassINC Polling Group survey, which polled 3,243 business owners in Massachusetts.
  • Nonwhite business owners have also faced difficulties getting COVID-19 relief funding. Black and Latino business owners were more likely to have received no COVID-19 funding, or smaller amounts, compared with white and Asian business owners, the findings indicate.

Why it matters: Small business owners are also dealing with a new set of concerns in 2022, including supply chain disruptions, hiring challenges and inflation-related increases.

MPG surveyed business owners with under 500 employees, and the vast majority reported having 100 employees or fewer. More than half the respondents were white.

  • 60% of respondents said funding was a major concern.
  • When broken down by race, fewer whites (55%) considered funding a major concern compared with Latinos (88%), Blacks (85%) and Asians (77%).

By the numbers: 74% of all small business owners said rising costs due to inflation were a major concern. Another 20% considered it a minor concern, and 5% said it wasn't a concern.

  • 61% said wages keeping up with inflation was a major concern, while 26% said it was a minor concern, and 11% said it wasn't a concern.

Between the lines: White owners and owners of larger companies were more likely to say they plan to sell their business, or that a senior leader plans to retire in the next five years, compared with nonwhite business owners.

What they're saying: Steve Koczela, president of The MassINC Polling Group, said the poll illustrates that nonwhite business owners are facing major hurdles, but that "there's the possibility of a more diverse future for the small business community than what exists today."

Data: MassINC Polling Group; Note: Small businesses are defined as those with less than 500 employees; Chart: Simran Parwani/Axios
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