KC Federal Reserve: Small business in Nebraska still at risk

KC Federal Reserve: Small business in Nebraska still at risk

Economists with the Omaha branch of the Kansas City Federal Reserve suggest that at year-end, there are still challenges ahead for small businesses in the Cornhusker State.

The analysis points out the strength of Nebraska’s COVID recovery thus far: relatively low employment throughout the year, with even the increased numbers that were seen in April, bouncing back significantly by November. Unemployment rates have returned to mostly pre-pandemic levels, and small businesses seem to have “fared better than those in most other states despite being severely impacted by the pandemic.”

Most significantly for Nebraska, our small business employment, according to the article, makes up a higher percentage of our workforce than in other states. Small businesses are defined as “firms with fewer than 50 employees.” In Nebraska, almost two-thirds of all of the firms are businesses that employ fewer than five employees.

Service and hospitality industry businesses bore a significant share of the downturn with the pandemic. Anecdotally, most of us have seen restaurants and bars that have struggled through the year–some shutting down for good because margins were already tight and got tighter with less (or no) business.

Gov. Ricketts issued a series of executive orders beginning in March of this year (you can find them by scrolling down here), many of which were aimed at keeping small businesses like bars and restaurants open.

As we turn toward recovery from the pandemic, we don’t know what impact having lived through this time will have on the willingness of consumers to sit in crowded bars and restaurants, or return to the old way of going about their business. Small businesses have been dependent on the reduced regulatory burden that allows them to be innovative in the way that they serve consumers in the last nine months. That regulatory relief should be made permanent as the new Legislature meets come January 6.

Photo by Tom Barrett on Unsplash

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