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New Phase of Small Business Pulse Survey Shows if Supply Chain Disruptions, High Prices Continue

Jane Callen

As the first results of Phase 7 of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Business Pulse Survey (SBPS) are released, we look back at some of the key takeaways from Phase 6. Let’s take a closer look at the impact of worldwide supply chain disruptions and price increases on the nation’s small businesses.

Phase 6 wrapped up October 17 and Phase 7 went into the field November 15. Will Phase 7 show that these economic trends are continuing?

The national average percentage of small businesses reporting large price increases the fifth week of Phase 6 (Sept. 13 – 19) was 28.8% and for those reporting moderate prices increases, it was 40.3%.

The SBPS measures the effect of changing business conditions during the coronavirus pandemic and other major events such as hurricanes on our nation’s small businesses. It complements existing Census Bureau data by providing detailed, near real-time information on the challenges faced by small businesses.

Phase 6 provided insights into supply chain disruptions and price changes at a time when these issues were reverberating around the world. According to SBPS responses, moderate and large increases in prices that businesses paid for goods and services compared to what was normal before March 13, 2020, were seen across several sectors.

The first week of Phase 6 was August 16 -22, 2021 at which time nearly 30% of U.S. small businesses indicated they were experiencing large price increases and 40% of U.S. small businesses reported moderate price increases.

Over the course of the ensuing nine weeks, the national average for small businesses indicating moderate price increases (compared to what was normal before March 13, 2020) remained at close to 40%.

Price Increases Varied by Sector

There were significant differences not just over time but between sectors.

In week five of Phase 6, for example, 54.4% of small businesses from the construction sector reported large price increases compared to only 18.5% of small businesses from the utilities sector.

The national average percentage of small businesses reporting large price increases the fifth week of Phase 6 (Sept. 13 – 19) was 28.8% and for those reporting moderate prices increases, it was 40.3%.

The last week of Phase 6 (Oct. 11 – 17), the national average was 30.8% but sectors with the largest percentages of small businesses reporting large price increases compared to what was normal before March 13, 2020, were manufacturing (52.3%), construction (52.0%) and accommodation and food services (46.3%).

The national average of small businesses reporting moderate price increases in the final week of Phase 6 was 40.0%.

Other services (except public administration) (49.8%), health care and social assistance (45.6%), and arts, entertainment, and recreation (45.0%) were among the sectors with the largest percentages of small businesses reporting moderate price increases in the final week of Phase 6 compared to what was normal before March 13, 2020.

Reports of domestic supplier delays in the last week rose from a national average of 42.6%, based on SBPS responses collected August 16 – 22, 2021, to 45.0%, based on SBPS responses collected October 11 – 17, 2021.

The national average for delays associated with foreign suppliers in the last week also rose, from 17.5%, based on SBPS responses collected August 16 – 22, 2021, to 19.7%, based on SBPS responses collected October 11 – 17, 2021.

Additionally, the national average for difficulties locating alternative domestic suppliers in the last week rose from 21.0%, based on SBPS responses collected August 16 – 22, 2021, to 23.1%, based on SBPS responses collected October 11 – 17, 2021.

What’s Next?

Phase 7 brings back a prior question to build on prior phases regarding the availability of cash on hand.

Additional changes: An open-ended question about operational changes made due to the coronavirus pandemic that businesses expect to keep and a question on exports were removed.

Phase 7 will also include information consistent with previous phases regarding operations, receipt of assistance, workplace COVID-19 vaccinations and testing requirements, supply-chain disruptions, measures of overall well-being, and expectations for recovery.

The first results from Phase 7 were released November 24, 2021, and weekly results will be released every subsequent Thursday from December 2, 2021, through January 20, 2022, on the Census Bureau website.

Weekly data are available at the national, sector, state and metropolitan statistical area (MSA) levels for the largest MSAs and Puerto Rico through the SBPS interactive tool and downloadable files. Data at the subsector, employment size, state by sector, state by employment size, and sector by employment size levels are also available through downloadable files.

 

Jane Callen is the senior writer/editor in the Census Bureau’s Communications Directorate.


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America Counts tells the stories behind the numbers in a new inviting way. We feature stories on various topics such as families, housing, employment, business, education, the economy, emergency management, health, population, income and poverty.

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