(The Center Square) – The Iowa Restaurant Association projects that up to 80,000 workers across the industry could be unemployed by the time the lingering coronavirus crisis has run its course.
With revenues down by a staggering 84% compared to March 2019, Restaurant Association leaders recently told KCCI options such as loans and tax credits won’t be enough to ward off all the carnage.
"We really are going to need a tremendous amount of financial assistance given to our industry in the form of grants," said Jessica Dunker, CEO and president of the Iowa Restaurant Association.
Dunker’s group is doing all it can to help impacted industry workers hold on. The organization recently launched the Hospitality Relief Fund, which is committed to donating all the money it raises to providing relief for cash-strapped workers.
“Restaurants are the cornerstone of any Iowa community, and the employees are what make them great, but many are facing the devastating reality of unexpected unemployment,” the Relief Fund posts on its website. “With your support, Iowa’s restaurant industry and our dedicated employees can breathe a little easier knowing that this relief fund can assist them in paying rent and utilities, filling prescriptions, and putting food on the table for their families.”
The dire numbers are in keeping with a new U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife survey that found by the middle of April well over half of all small businesses across the country could be shuttered.
Researchers note currently 24% of of all small businesses have already temporarily shuttered and another 40 percent indicate they’re poised to do the same thing over the next 14 days.
Across the country, more than 10 million people filed for unemployment benefits over a recent two-week period, with the unemployment rate spiraling up to 4.4 percent from 3.5 percent in February. Overall, 43 percent of businesses indicated they fear they have less than six months until a permanent shutdown is unavoidable, while 10 percent of owners said they have less than a month to survive.