Federal Reserve Survey Shows Impact of COVID-19 on Communities Nationwide

May 8, 2020

The Federal Reserve COVID-19 survey is a convenience sample. Since the sample is not selected randomly, the survey may be subject to biases that are not present in randomly-selected samples of firms. The respondents do not reflect the full population of businesses along the dimensions of industry, age, employee size, and geography. 

A new report from the 12 Federal Reserve banks and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System shows the scope and scale of the challenges that communities throughout the country face amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Perspectives from Main Street: The Impact of COVID-19 on Communities and the Entities Serving Them reports the findings of a nationwide survey of nonprofit organizations, financial institutions, government agencies, and other community organizations. The survey was conducted in April 2020 with nearly 3,900 respondents serving rural, suburban, and urban communities. Responses from the Seventh District were largely similar to those from the rest of the country. 

Key findings include: 

  • Nearly 7 out of 10 respondents indicated that COVID-19 was a significant disruption to the economic conditions of the communities they serve and that recovery is expected to be difficult. 
  • Income loss, business impacts, health concerns, and basic consumer needs were the most frequently cited impacts of COVID-19. 
  • Over one-third of respondents indicated it will take longer than 12 months for their communities to return to pre-COVID-19 conditions. 
  • 72 percent of respondents indicated COVID-19 is significantly disrupting their organization or business, with 41 percent expecting to bounce back quickly after the recovery begins. 
  • 25 percent of respondents indicated their business or organization could operate for less than three months in the current environment before exhibiting financial distress. 

Key Seventh District findings include: 

  • Roughly 25 percent of respondents reported that operating expenses have already increased, and another 28 percent expect operating expenses to increase as a result of COVID-19. 
  • A majority of respondents believe their community will take at least 10 months to recover. 
  • Seventh District respondents were most worried about the impact of COVID-19 on unemployment/job losses, the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE), and business closures/failure. 

The survey will be conducted approximately every eight weeks; findings will be updated.; 

About the Fed’s community development function: The Federal Reserve seeks to promote the economic resilience and mobility of individuals and communities across the U.S., including low- to moderate-income and underserved households. Increasing economic opportunity is not only good for individuals and communities, but also is vital to the overall economy. 

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