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Expand chart
Data: Census Bureau Small Business Pulse Survey; Chart: Axios Visuals

New findings from a weekly U.S. Census survey show that things might be slowly looking up for small businesses — or at least steadying.

The big picture: The number of companies reporting severe problems from COVID-19 — or of temporary closings or having to cut employee hours — has been dropping. At the same time, far more said they had received aid through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

By the numbers: The Census Bureau has surveyed tens of thousands of small businesses over the last several weeks and has released three weeks worth of results.

  • In the first batch of results, 38% of all respondents said they had received PPP money vs. 67% in the third batch.
  • In the most recent survey, 62% had seen revenues decline in the past week, but that was down from 74% in the first week.

Yes, but: It's still bad. And more and more small business owners (35%) say they don't expect be back to normal operations for more than 6 months.

  • Some states and territories have been harder hit than others. For example, in 12 states (plus D.C. and Puerto Rico), half or more of survey respondents said COVID-19 had had "large negative effects" on them.
    • That included 60% of small businesses in Puerto Rico, 59% in Hawaii and New York, and 58% in Michigan.
    • Nearly half of small businesses in Puerto Rico, South Dakota, North Dakota, New Jersey, Alabama and Louisiana only have enough cash on hand to last a month or less.

Some industries may never be the same. More than three-quarters of companies in the food and accommodation categories said they'd suffered "large negative effects" from the virus and shutdowns.

  • So had more than 70% in arts and recreation or education.

Go deeper

National League of Cities: Airline cuts to small-town routes is a "devastation"

Axios' Ina Fried (l) and National League of Cities CEO Clarence Anthony. Photo: Axios

Airlines service cuts to small cities could dramatically affect connectivity for Americans, National League of Cities CEO and Executive Director Clarence Anthony said during an Axios virtual event on Friday. "It is a devastation,' he said.

What's happening: American Airlines last week announced plans to suspend service to 15 small cities once federal coronavirus aid for airlines runs out in October, per CNBC. American was the only airline servicing nine of the affected airports.

Updated 54 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump sues National Archives, Jan. 6 committee to block records request

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to block the National Archives from releasing White House records to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, citing executive privilege.

Why it matters: It's the latest escalation in Trump's campaign to disrupt the committee's sweeping probe into the circumstances surrounding Jan. 6, including his actions and communications leading up to the Capitol attack.

UNC race conscious admissions process upheld by judge

Students walk through the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Aug. 18, 2020 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill can continue its race conscious admissions process, a federal judge ruled on Monday.

Why it matters: The case could end up in the Supreme Court after the conservative nonprofit Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) vowed to appeal the judge's ruling that UNC didn't discriminate against against white and Asian American applicants in its policy that it said was designed to increase diversity.