Metros where small businesses have been most impacted by COVID-19

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May 14, 2020
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Metros where small businesses have been most impacted by the coronavirus

More than nine out of 10 small businesses have suffered a negative impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to research by the National Federation of Independent Business. Under stay-at-home orders, half predicted they could survive no longer than two months. Small businesses tend to operate on razor-thin margins, with a need for regular cash flow and lack of financial cushioning. According to a March 25–April 6 survey by Main Street America, of the nation's 30 million or so small businesses, 3.5 million were at risk of closing for good in the subsequent two months.

Many small businesses have proven to be agile, moving to online sales, curbside deliveries, or switching production to something new altogether. But experts and data indicate even the most flexible companies will be unlikely to compensate for lost in-person and brick-and-mortar operations. To make matters worse, demand by consumers has fallen off dramatically due to job losses and uncertainty.

While many businesses may be eager to reopen, they might find a disappointing reception. A survey by the Washington Post and University of Maryland found three-quarters of Amercans felt uncomfortable about eating out at a restaurant, and two-thirds were uncomfortable about shopping in a retail clothing store.

Losses in small businesses have been deepest in retail, hospitality, food services, personal services, arts and entertainment. Among restaurants in Washington D.C., despite their efforts to survive on pickup and delivery orders, sales are down about 80% as of early April. That means they are making $1 for every $5 they made a year ago.

Stacker compiled a list of how small businesses have been impacted by coronavirus from Homebase. It ranked 50 metro areas by the number of local businesses that were closed on April 29 compared with the median for that day of the week for the period from Jan. 4–31, 2020. Ties are broken by the change in hourly employees working.

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#50. Milwaukee

- Local businesses open: -29%
- Hourly employees working: -42%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -39%

Under Wisconsin’s Safer at Home campaign, about a third of Milwaukee’s local businesses closed their doors. Several started GoFundMe “virtual tip jars” to help raise money for their workers. Experts from Wisconsin Foodie predict about a third of restaurants will be out of business for good across the state.

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pen-and-ink // Shutterstock

#49. Oklahoma City

- Local businesses open: -33%
- Hourly employees working: -47%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -48%

In Oklahoma City, small businesses in need have swamped the Small Business Continuity Fund. More than 600 local businesses have applied, seeking more than $20 million from a fund that has $5.5 million for forgivable loans and cash incentives.

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Sharon Hahn Darlin // Flickr

#48. Memphis

- Local businesses open: -34%
- Hourly employees working: -37%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -32%

Memphis has kicked off new microloan and grant programs for small businesses shuttered by the crisis. The loans range up to $35,000, while grants of up to $10,000 are aimed at helping businesses in stressed, inner-city neighborhoods.

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#47. Virginia Beach

- Local businesses open: -34%
- Hourly employees working: -46%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -40%

In the month of April, more than 20,000 Virginia Beach residents filed new unemployment claims. Most lost their jobs working for small businesses. Also, small businesses asked to cite their top concerns told Virginia Beach authorities they needed funds most to pay rent and utilities.

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#46. Phoenix

- Local businesses open: -35%
- Hourly employees working: -49%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -48%

Small businesses are a huge part of the Phoenix economy. Nearly three-quarters of the city’s 18,000 businesses have fewer than 25 employees. The city council recently approved $15 million in grants for small businesses and sole proprietors to help them through the crisis.

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#45. Kansas City

- Local businesses open: -36%
- Hourly employees working: -31%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -31%

Looking to get local businesses reopened, Kansas City has set up “10/10/10” rules. Nonessential businesses cannot operate at more than 10% of capacity or allow 10 people inside, whichever is greater. The third “10” is optional, asking businesses to record the names of customers who stayed more than 10 minutes, in a beauty parlor for example, as a way to trace potential cases of the virus.

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#44. San Antonio

- Local businesses open: -36%
- Hourly employees working: -49%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -50%

As local businesses shuttered in San Antonio, workers making the lowest wages were hit the hardest, according to local experts. The most affected employees were hourly workers in the hospitality, food, and retail industries. In the week ending March 28, nearly a quarter of the workers filing unemployment claims statewide came from the hospitality sector.

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#43. Salt Lake City

- Local businesses open: -38%
- Hourly employees working: -45%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -47%

Small businesses comprise nine out of 10 employers in Utah, and slightly less than half the workforce. Struggling in the pandemic, hundreds of small businesses signed an open letter to the governor and other leaders, calling for grants, deferred sales tax obligations, and other financial assistance. In Salt Lake City, more than 90% of the 17,000 businesses are small.

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#42. Jacksonville

- Local businesses open: -38%
- Hourly employees working: -48%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -42%

All nonessential businesses were ordered closed by the mayor of Jacksonville at the start of April, with the exception of health care providers, grocery stores, restaurants for takeout, factories, and construction sites. The city, which has gotten national recognition for supporting small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs, set up a loan and grant program a few days later.

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#41. Austin

- Local businesses open: -38%
- Hourly employees working: -49%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -51%

The first phase of reopening businesses in Texas allowed retailers, restaurants, movie theaters, and malls to reopen at 25% of capacity. But data shows unemployment projections due to the coronavirus of more than 260,000 in the Austin metro area through June—a jobless rate of 25.4%.

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#40. Dallas

- Local businesses open: -39%
- Hourly employees working: -48%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -48%

Nearly 5 million people in Texas work for small companies. They mostly work in construction, real estate, professional servers, arts and entertainment, and food and lodging—all of which have felt a heavy economic blow from the crisis. In Dallas, small businesses like restaurants and retailers were taking gradual steps to reopen after the state’s stay-at-home order expired at the start of May.

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#39. Riverside

- Local businesses open: -40%
- Hourly employees working: -48%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -47%

Small businesses are reopening gradually in early May with curbside pickup and delivery in Riverside County. Among the businesses allowed to reopen are florists, shoe stores, bookstores, antique stores, and sporting goods stores. In-house services such as barbers and beauty salons are not permitted. Local golf courses reopened with restrictions on cart usage and removal of rakes and ball washers. Golfers are not allowed to touch the flagsticks.

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#38. Atlanta

- Local businesses open: -40%
- Hourly employees working: -49%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -46%

Georgia was one of the earliest states to give a green light to reopen companies, and many small business owners reported being torn between health concerns and financial strains as they decided whether to open their doors. While the governor promoted reopening, Atlanta’s mayor countered with pleas for residents to stay home.

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#37. Nashville

- Local businesses open: -40%
- Hourly employees working: -57%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -57%

Among small businesses in Nashville, restaurants with bars are reopening cautiously in early May. They can only operate at half capacity, and staff must wear masks and be screened daily for coronavirus. Businesses may require customers to wear a mask and they can screen customers for the virus.

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#36. Charlotte

- Local businesses open: -41%
- Hourly employees working: -49%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -48%

Nearly 30,000 businesses in Charlotte’s Mecklenburg County are small, employing fewer than 50. In a late-March survey, one-third of Charlotte’s businesses said that without new sales, they could not afford to operate beyond a month.

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#35. Tampa

- Local businesses open: -41%
- Hourly employees working: -53%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -48%

Fewer than a third of small businesses in the Tampa Bay region are likely to have at least three weeks’ cash on hand, leaving them ill-equipped to navigate extended closings. Half of Tampa Bay’s small businesses have enough cash to cover operating expenses for 12 days or less, according to data from JP Morgan Chase Institute.

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#34. Cincinnati

- Local businesses open: -41%
- Hourly employees working: -55%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -55%

Forced to close to stop the spread of coronavirus, many small businesses in Cincinnati have made changes to prepare for reopening. Retailers reconfigured interiors to allow for social distancing and set up hand sanitizing stations. A local company called Swagbox spearheaded a campaign called Love Local, selling T-shirts printed with the name of an affected small business. Out of every purchase, $10 goes to help a small business of the buyer’s choice.

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#33. Raleigh

- Local businesses open: -42%
- Hourly employees working: -47%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -47%

Raleigh is home to more than 34,000 small businesses, among them 1,800 restaurants and 700 personal-service businesses like barber shops. The city council set up grants programs for small businesses with 49 or fewer employees and for microbusinesses with less than 14 on their payroll.

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#32. Houston

- Local businesses open: -42%
- Hourly employees working: -48%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -46%.

With four in 10 local businesses shut down, a survey by the Greater Houston Partnership found that more than 90% of small- and medium-sized businesses in Houston have lost revenue. Nearly 60% are operating below half-capacity, and roughly half are not paying their employees during the shutdown.

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#31. Denver

- Local businesses open: -42%
- Hourly employees working: -52%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -51%

As of early May, Denver is allowing an array of nonessential businesses to reopen—retailers, nail and hair salons, pet groomers, and tattoo parlors. They must operate at no more than 50% capacity or with 10 or fewer people, by appointment, and with no walk-ins permitted.

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#30. Sacramento

- Local businesses open: -42%
- Hourly employees working: -56%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -54%

Sacramento County is home to more than 20,000 businesses with fewer than 10 employees. That’s 70% of all its businesses, and they tend to operate on thin margins, highly vulnerable to the financial impact of the pandemic. The stay-at-home order in Sacramento started in mid-March.

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#29. Birmingham

- Local businesses open: -43%
- Hourly employees working: -49%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -49%

Nearly three-quarters of jobs in the Birmingham metro area are consumption-based, relying on customer contact and interaction, and struggling in the coronavirus pandemic. The city expects to lose more than $9 million in revenue in April and May from depressed sales and business operations. Nearly 6,000 businesses in Birmingham are small, but they employ about 47,000 workers. Unemployment in Birmingham and surrounding Jefferson County is expected to reach 66,000 workers due to business closures.

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#28. Minneapolis

- Local businesses open: -44%
- Hourly employees working: -50%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -47%

Nonessential small businesses in Minneapolis were ordered closed in a statewide shutdown. Restrictions have since started to loosen, allowing businesses such as outdoor recreation companies, landscapers, and those with no face-to-face customer interaction to reopen, as well as allowing retailers to provide curbside service.

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#27. Richmond

- Local businesses open: -45%
- Hourly employees working: -51%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -48%

With so many workers idled, the city of Richmond started a no-interest disaster loan program for small businesses affected by the pandemic. The emergency loans of up to $20,000 are designed to keep businesses operating and workers on the payroll.

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#26. Indianapolis

- Local businesses open: -45%
- Hourly employees working: -52%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -47%

The state opened a PPE Marketplace to help small businesses that will need gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer to reopen. Companies must have 150 or fewer employees to qualify, and their size determines how many supplies they get. In a recent survey of the state’s small businesses, three-quarters said it would not be difficult to frequently disinfect common areas upon reopening.

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#25. Cleveland

- Local businesses open: -45%
- Hourly employees working: -54%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -46%

With so many small businesses shuttered in Ohio—including nearly half in Cleveland—state officials were weighing measures to help them survive. Under discussion were waiving penalties and interest for overdue taxes, extending licensing and certification deadlines, and offering tax credits for safety purchases related to COVID-19.

 

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#24. Seattle

- Local businesses open: -45%
- Hourly employees working: -55%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -56%

Among the small businesses in downtown Seattle, some 23,000 jobs are in the restaurant industry, and food-service workers accounted for the majority of the state’s new unemployment claims by the second week of March. When close-down orders began, the city of Seattle designed an interactive map to help consumers find the hundreds of small businesses offering takeout and delivery.

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#23. Orlando

- Local businesses open: -46%
- Hourly employees working: -56%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -55%

The economy of the Orlando area, home to more than 61,000 small businesses, is based on tourism. In 2018, almost 21 million people visited Disney World, which shut down in mid-March and has put 100,000 employees out of work.

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#22. Los Angeles

- Local businesses open: -47%
- Hourly employees working: -55%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -55%

Among the small businesses operating in Los Angeles are nearly 100 breweries. When the outbreak forced businesses to close, several switched gears to produce hand sanitizer for essential works and for consumers. One high-end brand is made with cinnamon, allspice, clove, and eucalyptus, with a portion of proceeds going to support bartenders who have lost their jobs in the outbreak.

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#21. Columbus

- Local businesses open: -48%
- Hourly employees working: -54%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -52%

Among Ohio’s 950,000 small businesses, half its restaurants closed down in March, and more than 300,000 restaurant employees were furloughed or laid off. Reopening plans call for bars and restaurants to cap limits on parties of more than 10 people and spacing between tables with barriers or six feet distances. Waiting areas have to provide social distancing, and customers may have to wait in their cars before being seated.

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#20. Louisville

- Local businesses open: -49%
- Hourly employees working: -55%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -51%

Many of Louisville's small businesses are part of the restaurant and hospitality industry that each spring relies on the more than 150,000 visitors drawn to the Kentucky Derby, postponed this year like so many favorite events. To help Louisville's small businesses through the crisis, a partnership of local entrepreneurs put together a virtual 5K walk/run. Entry fees by participants, who run a 3.1-mile course of their choosing, support loans of up to $25,000 with no interest for a year.

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#19. Portland

- Local businesses open: -49%
- Hourly employees working: -58%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -56%

Portland’s trademark local businesses—its food trucks, restaurants, and breweries—have been struck hard by the coronavirus safety measures. Across the state, 4 in 10 businesses have temporarily closed, most of them citing declining sales. Only a third of businesses have workforces able to work remotely. Uncertainty and an inability to plan for the future were cited as the biggest challenges facing the state’s businesses.

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#18. Hartford

- Local businesses open: -49%
- Hourly employees working: -62%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -60%

About a quarter of the workforce has been laid off or furloughed in Connecticut, where Hartford is the capital city with more than 122,000 residents. Steps are underway to reopen the outdoor areas of bars and restaurants, museums, and zoos as well as retailers. But many small businesses with tiny venues say they do not know if they can survive if they have to cut back on customer density and customer proximity to one another. Before the pandemic, the state's unemployment rate was at an historic low of 3.7%.

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#17. Baltimore

- Local businesses open: -50%
- Hourly employees working: -54%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -52%

With half its local businesses closed, Baltimore is expected to lose about $170 million in revenue due to the pandemic. Among the preparations to reopen and recover, a Neighborhood Business Reopening Initiative has been assigned to help reconfigure public rights of way and public spaces to allow for maximum outdoor seating and social distancing in the city’s districts that draw crowds of visitors.

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#16. San Diego

- Local businesses open: -50%
- Hourly employees working: -57%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -56%

The unemployment rate in the San Diego region has risen to 26.8% during the pandemic, a historic level since the Great Depression. In early March, the county’s unemployment rate was 3.4%. Data from April 18–25 found 450,000 people were out of work, more than 400,000 of whom lost their jobs after early March. Hardest hit industries, many of which are largely small businesses, have been hotels, restaurants, personal care, transportation, and the entertainment field.

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#15. San Jose

- Local businesses open: -51%
- Hourly employees working: -56%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -55%

San Jose created an advisory council to navigate an economic recovery in Santa Clara County, which lost 200,000 jobs in just four weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak. The city has a Rapid Response program for businesses to contact if they plan to close or lay off employees due to the coronavirus. The Rapid Response teams are designed to help avoid potential layoffs and provide services to workers.

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#14. Washington DC

- Local businesses open: -51%
- Hourly employees working: -60%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -59%

In Washington D.C., many small businesses are linked closely to the federal government, which has been largely shuttered for weeks. Many startup businesses are in high-contact fields such as hospitality and food service, and more than two-thirds of Washington’s establishments are very small with fewer than five employees. District CFO Jeffrey DeWitt estimates that of the 40% of restaurants that have closed down entirely, only half will reopen within a year.

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#13. Chicago

- Local businesses open: -51%
- Hourly employees working: -62%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -62%

The city of Chicago created a $100 million fund providing low-interest loans as stopgap relief to thousands of small businesses. Economists note that Chicago’s economy is among the most diverse of U.S. cities. With no more than 14% of its revenues from any one sector, the financial impact of the virus is spread across a number of industries that gives it a strong base for recovery.

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#12. Miami

- Local businesses open: -51%
- Hourly employees working: -62%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -61%

Hardest hit by the coronavirus in all of Florida, Miami has seen more than half its small businesses—ultra-dependent on tourism—close down. To aid recovery, the city set up grants to assist microenterprises, those with five or fewer employees including the owner, with rent, utilities, and payroll, and loans of up to $20,000 for small businesses to keep their low- and mid-income employees. The loans do not have to be repaid if the jobs last at least a year.

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#11. Providence

- Local businesses open: -52%
- Hourly employees working: -58%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -57%

The state of Rhode Island includes about 99,000 small businesses, many of them located in the capital city of Providence, where more than half have been forced to close down. Retailers are among the first nonessential businesses being allowed to reopen, but high-contact small companies like beauty salons and gyms were not included in the early reopening round.

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#10. Philadelphia

- Local businesses open: -52%
- Hourly employees working: -63%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -63%

In the Philadelphia region, there are more than 27,000 small businesses, and more than half are so small that they employ fewer than five people. The state's phased-in reopening plan calls for counties with the fewest new coronavirus cases to go first, meaning Philadelphia with its high caseload is likely to be among the last. Experts say many of the city’s small businesses face bankruptcy and will close permanently.

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#9. New Orleans

- Local businesses open: -52%
- Hourly employees working: -67%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -65%

Already battered by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, New Oreleans is home to more than 29,000 small businesses including its popular restaurants and bars that rely on tourism. Experts say the city of 1.3 million people, which has suffered high rates of coronavirus cases, is at extreme risk of falling into recession.

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#8. Pittsburgh

- Local businesses open: -53%
- Hourly employees working: -64%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -64%

Half of all jobs in Pennsylvania are in the small business sector, and Pittsburgh is no exception. Many of those businesses are so small that they had no online presence, so the city has launched a program for small retailers and food and beverage companies to build websites and handle online ordering and inventory.

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#7. Las Vegas

- Local businesses open: -54%
- Hourly employees working: -66%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -62%

A third of workers in Las Vegas are employed in the tourism and hospitality industry that attracts more than 40 million visitors a year. Two-thirds of the city’s hourly employees are not working. Experts say it may be at least two years before tourists return in large numbers, although Las Vegas may attract visitors who otherwise might have traveled overseas and are choosing to stay closer to home.

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#6. St. Louis

- Local businesses open: -56%
- Hourly employees working: -64%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -59%

Reopening plans in St. Louis put small businesses like restaurants, bars, and retail shops at the head of the line, followed by barbershops and hair salons. Both county and city officials were considering ordinances to allow businesses to refuse service to customers who are not wearing masks.

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#5. San Francisco

- Local businesses open: -56%
- Hourly employees working: -66%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -63%

Half of San Francisco’s 95,000 businesses are considered small, and 45,000 of those employ 10 or fewer employees. They employ 350,000 people in the city with a population of about 883,000, but two-thirds are not working in the pandemic.

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#4. Buffalo

- Local businesses open: -57%
- Hourly employees working: -57%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -57%

Most small businesses in Buffalo are bars and restaurants, and the service industry has been among the hardest hit by lockdowns. A Buffalo Niagara Partnership study of 1,800 businesses in the area found 93% had seen revenues fall. The smallest businesses reported the biggest impact. Two out of three businesses were reducing positions or wages, and 60% were implementing hiring freezes.

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#3. Boston

- Local businesses open: -58%
- Hourly employees working: -67%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -65%

Massachusetts’ lockdown has been among the nation’s strictest. In Boston, two-thirds of hourly employees are out of work. Just ahead of Mother’s Day, restrictions were lifted on some small businesses that could operate remotely, including florists, bookstores, and other retailers. But they remained closed to the public, with limited hours to allow for extensive cleaning.

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#2. New York

- Local businesses open: -61%
- Hourly employees working: -72%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -72%

New York City, the initial epicenter of the coronavirus in the United States, has some 230,000 small businesses that employ almost 3 million people—nearly half the city’s private workforce. In preparation for reopening, the mayor of New York City has set up an advisory council of small businesses, one of 10 industry-specific panels that will help determine the process.

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#1. Detroit

- Local businesses open: -63%
- Hourly employees working: -69%
- Hours worked by hourly employees: -71%

Historically under economic stress, Detroit has been pummeled by the coronavirus outbreak, with nearly three-quarters of its hourly workers losing income. Statewide, more than half of small businesses say their employees are unable to work from home, more than a third would need more space to accommodate social distancing, and 1 in 7 said they were not confident they would survive the pandemic.

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