• How Much Has COVID Cost Us?

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    July 01, 2022
    U.S. Chamber of Commerce


    Top Takeaways

    • Inflation worries dominate the minds of small businesses.
    • The pandemic has cost the economy more than $8 trillion.
    • High gas and energy prices impact much of the economy.
    • Experts have tips for finding and retaining talent during a worker shortage. 

    Editor’s note: The Chamber Bulletin will return on July 7.

    Developments That Matter

    Small Businesses Worry About Inflation

    Inflation dominates the minds of small businesses, according to the MetLife and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index.
    Why it matters: 88% of small business owners are concerned about the impact of inflation on their businesses. 
    • Nearly half (49%) are very concerned, compared to 44% last quarter and 31% in Q4 2021.
    But: Despite the sharp increase in inflation worries and ongoing economic uncertainty, the Small Business Index ticked up 2.7 points to reach a new pandemic-era high. 
    • The Index’s rise comes from its unique focus on individual small business circumstances, with less weight assigned to attitudes toward the broader economy.
    Details: Two-in-three small business owners say their business is in good health, a five-point increase from last quarter.
    • Two-thirds (66%) say they expect revenue to increase over the next year.
    • 43% plan to hire more staff, the highest number recorded in the past two years.
    Our take: Historic inflation is top-of-mind and deeply troubling to small businesses. But at the same time, there is confidence among small business owners that customer demand will remain strong, and this quarter’s Index shows they want to hire and plan on meeting that demand in the coming months.
    Read more:

    Economic Viewpoints

    COVID’s $8 Trillion Toll on the Economy

    The COVID-19 recession that started in March 2020 and ended by the end of June 2022 will cost the economy more than $8 trillion when all is said and done.
    Why it matters: Recessions exact a heavy toll on the economy, and larger recessions exact larger tolls.
    Be smart: The economy rebounded strongly after the shock of COVID. This was the latest proof it is resilient and tends to grow well absent policy mistakes and outside shocks. That’s the good news.
    • But: The less-good news is that the economy is still not back to the size it would’ve been had COVID never happened.
    • To match and get above that level, the economy must grow well above the previous growth trajectory for several quarters. Despite decent growth since the recession ended, we are not likely to get there until late 2023 or early 2024.
    Bottom line: Recessions are costly, which is why we should cross our fingers we stay out of one while fighting the current bout of inflation.
    —Curtis Dubay, Senior Economist, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

    Top Of Mind

    High Energy Costs Ripple Through the Economy

    High energy prices are top of mind as Americans hit the road for the Independence Day holiday. 

    By the numbers: 
    • According to GasBuddy.com, Americans are now spending $730 million more every day on gasoline than a year ago.
    • June alone could cost U.S. consumers $20 billion more to fill their tanks than in 2021.
    Why it matters: Higher costs for oil and natural gas ripple through the economy in many ways.
    • High diesel prices flow through to goods and services. 
    • High natural gas prices impact manufacturers.
    • Electricity prices, influenced by natural gas prices, are on the rise.
    Bottom line: Concrete measures that fix broken permitting processes, support expanded pipeline infrastructure, and lift development restrictions on federal lands and waters would improve U.S. producers’ ability to respond to high oil and natural gas prices.
    Read More

    Tips for Growing a Team During a Worker Shortage

    This week at CO–’s latest Start. Run. Grow event, experts highlighted best practices in recruiting and managing employees during a worker shortage.
    Why it matters: Finding and retaining workers can be a challenge for small business owners, especially when other companies are competing for the same talent.
    Be smart: Here are three tips:
    1. Seek candidates who have the potential to grow and learn.
    2. Optimize your hiring process to find the right fit.
    3. Support the development and retention of a diverse workforce.

    Discover & Deliver: New COVID Vaccine Could Be Ready in October

    As new variants of Omicron continue to spread, an FDA committee of independent advisors voted on Tuesday in favor of redesigning the vaccines to better target Omicron. Be smart: One of the benefits of the mRNA vaccines has been the ability to quickly update them as the virus evolved.
    • Pfizer estimates a new vaccine could be ready as soon as October, while Moderna is projecting late October or early November. 
    Looking ahead: Pfizer and BioNTech will begin testing a universal vaccine for coronaviruses in the second half of the year. 
    –Kelly Anderson, Executive Director, Health and Drug Policy, Global Innovation Policy Center


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