The COVID recession has had a disproportionate impact on women, especially minority women, who are more likely to work in fields such as retail and restaurants that have been hit hard by the downturn in the economy. ‘economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more women than men in the United States have lost their jobs because the industries they tend to work in have been hit harder by the effects of the pandemic.
Second, the coronavirus closures have closed schools and daycares across the country, keeping children at home and making it even more difficult for parents (especially mothers who tend to provide the majority of child care services). ‘children) to continue working, ”said a BLS report The Impact of COVID-19 on Gender Equality. “Child care is an additional challenge for working mothers during the pandemic.”
The study indicates that working women are also at a greater disadvantage compared to working men in the current crisis, as fewer women have jobs that allow them to work remotely.
It is estimated that more than 2 million women left the workforce in 2020, which translates into the lowest participation rate of women in the labor market since 1988. And there has been a disproportionate impact on black women. and Latinas who now have higher unemployment rates than white women.
The smallest of small businesses has most certainly been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Small Business Administration (SBA) has been working quickly and relentlessly to bring programs online to help these businesses hard hit through this pandemic, said. said Janita Stewart, acting regionally. Southeastern region administrator and district director of the Mississippi district office of the SBA.
“This includes, of course, small family businesses, small businesses owned by minorities and women, as well as closed places, restaurants and their employees,” said Stewart.
Information programs intended to help came in the wake of the Economic Aid Act after the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was enacted by President Biden on March 11. Stewart said legislation was enacted to change the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. crisis in our country by helping small businesses and their workers and building a bridge to a fair economic recovery.
“Supporting all of the small businesses across the country that continue to struggle in the wake of this pandemic with fair and equitable relief is the cornerstone of this historic law,” said Stewart.
Restaurants were devastated with both mandatory closures and, later, restrictions on indoor dining seating. Stewart said this industry will be aided by ARPA which will provide $ 28.6 billion for a new restaurant revitalization fund for grants to eligible entities with a maximum grant of $ 5 million per location and a maximum total grant. of $ 10 million.
“Women, minority-owned businesses and veterans are key to getting this help,” Stewart said.
Types of businesses eligible for economic assistance under this program include restaurants, food stands, food trucks, food carts, caterers, saloons, inns, taverns, bars, lounges, brasseries, tasting rooms, taprooms and facilities or premises authorized for an alcoholic drink. producer where the public can taste, buy or taste products or any similar establishment where people gather for the main purpose of being served food or drink.
One grant program for businesses that have essentially had to shut down, like museums and performance venues, is the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) which opened on April 8. ARPA provided an additional $ 1.25 billion for the SVOG program, including $ 500,000. go to technical assistance for / around the grant application.
One of the biggest pandemic assistance efforts has been the Paycheck Protection Program (P3). As of April 11, 51,064 PPP loans had been approved for nearly $ 1.6 billion in Mississippi. ARPA has provided $ 7.25 billion to support PPP lending across the country.
SBA updates PPP guidelines and applications to incorporate ARPA provisions. The program is scheduled to end on May 31.
“Eligibility for P3s has been broadened to include certain other non-profit organizations and certain Internet-only newspaper and periodical publishing organizations (NAICS code 519130), playing a crucial role in the dissemination of news, local information and content, including dissemination of emergency information. pandemic information, access to vaccinations and assistance to help businesses and communities recover, ”said Stewart.
ARPA is also providing an additional $ 15 billion for Targeted Economic Disaster Loan (EIDL) prepayments, including $ 5 billion for new additional targeted EIDL prepayments for those most aggrieved. ARPA is also providing an additional $ 70 million for the SBA’s Disaster Lending Program, which will make available an additional $ 784.8 million in low-cost, long-term loans to businesses in need of flexible capital to support themselves. recover from the pandemic and rebuild.
ARPA is providing $ 175 million to establish a community navigator pilot program and conduct outreach efforts. The law states that funds are to be used to provide grants to eligible organizations supporting efforts to improve access to COVID-19 pandemic assistance programs and resources, as well as to establish a helpline. telephone.
Stewart said the combination of all of these programs has been extremely helpful, a lifeline for many small businesses.
“Things are improving with some businesses that have pivoted and reopened,” said Stewart. “More of this is welcome and should come,” said Stewart.