33 million have sought US unemployment aid since virus hit

A man writes information in front of Illinois Department of Employment Security in Chicago on April 30, 2020. U.S. businesses cut an unprecedented 20.2 million jobs in April, an epic collapse with coronavirus outbreak closing the offices, factories, schools, construction sites and stores that propel the U.S. economy. The Wednesday, May 6, report from payroll company ADP showed the tragic depth and scale of job losses that left no part of the world’s largest economy unscathed. 

Nationally, 54% of businesses that obtained loans through the federal Paycheck Protection Program expect to receive full forgiveness by keeping workers on payroll during the pandemic.

The finding came from a poll by NFIB, which represents small and independent businesses. There were 685 responses from NFIB members, 80% of whom submitted applications to the popular forgivable loan program. Of those, nine in 10 had already received a deposit from the loan.

“Our policymakers need to understand that as long as the current level of uncertainty remains present on Main Street, small-business owners will be reluctant to reinvest, expand and hire new employees,” said Tony Gagliardi, the Colorado state director for NFIB.

As of May 16, the federal government has approved 96,285 loans for Colorado businesses, totaling $10.3 billion.

The national poll found that businesses were concerned about another program Congress authorized to provide enhanced compensation to laid-off workers through unemployment insurance.

“While this benefit helps support those who have no immediate job prospects, it has presented a significant challenge to some small business owners trying to fill open positions,” NFIB wrote of the $600 extra per week allocated to workers through the CARES Act. Some small business owners find themselves competing with the UI program” because of its sustainable income stream. 

Nearly one in five businesses said that an employee had declined an offer to come back to work so that they could continue to collect unemployment benefits, which created a problem for the Paycheck Protection Program’s requirement to maintain payrolls based on pre-pandemic numbers. 

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