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Small Business Credit Survey 2021 Report on Employer Firms

The Small Business Credit Survey 2021 Report on Employer Firms examines the findings of an annual, nationwide survey of small business owners. As policymakers and service providers continue to enact programs to help small businesses weather the COVID-19 crisis, the report provides data about small firms’ performance, financing and credit positions, and expectations for the next 12 months.

Key findings include

  • COVID-19 resulted in a challenging 2020 for small firms. Most small businesses (78%) reported that their firms had experienced a decrease in revenues, and more than half (57%) report their financial condition is fair or poor.
  • Among firms, 80% reported facing financial challenges in the prior 12 months, up from 66% from the 2019 survey. Among the most common challenges were difficulties with paying operating expenses (65%), making payments toward debt (44%), and paying rent (43%).
  • Almost all firms (91%) reported that they sought emergency assistance funding. Of those firms that applied for funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), 96% received at least some funding. Firms that received PPP funds were more likely to retain employees and more likely to attempt to rehire those they did not retain.
  • In the face of financial challenges, the most common action (taken by 62% of firms) was use of the owner’s personal funds. More than half (55%) of firms cut staff or downsized operations, 52% obtained funds through grants, crowdfunding, and donations, and 50% took out debt.


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