Virus Outbreak New Jersey

A person wearing a protective face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus walks past shuttered businesses on the boardwalk April 28, 2020, in Atlantic City, N.J.

(The Center Square) – The number of New Jersey businesses worried they'll have to close if the economy doesn't improve has declined.

More than one in 10 (13%) small business owners say they will have to close unless economic conditions improve over the next six months, according to a new survey from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Research Center. That is a decrease from more than one in four (25%) in December.

“While it is encouraging that more businesses are confident in their financial ability to keep their doors open, retail, gyms, restaurants, and other business are still only open to 50% capacity,” NFIB’s New Jersey State Director Eileen Kean said in a news release. “Meanwhile, New Jersey has the highest rate of new COVID-19 cases in the United States and Governor Murphy is not lifting restrictions. The Main Streets of New Jersey are still in very vulnerable shape.”

The survey, released last week, also revealed that nearly three-quarters (74%) of 2020 Paycheck Protection Program borrowers applied for loan forgiveness. A similar number (73%) of those that submitted for PPP loan forgiveness received final confirmation from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) of their approved forgiveness amount.

Of the businesses that received a first-draw PPP loan in 2020, 42% have already applied for a second-draw PPP loan. Another 2% are planning to do so for one, while 7% are weighing whether to apply for a second one.

Meanwhile, 78% of those who have applied for a second-draw PPP loan have been approved, and 1% were denied. 18% have not yet heard from their lender.

According to the survey, respondents said the economic outlook has improved slightly in recent months. 11% of business owners say that conditions are now back to normal, improving six percentage points from late January.

Meanwhile, 12% of owners say it will take until the first half of 2021 for economic conditions to improve. About a third (34%) anticipate sometime in the second half, while a similar number (32%) are less optimistic and believe conditions will not fully improve until 2022; 11% say it will take until after 2022.

“We want to open; there’s no question about that,” Gov. Phil Murphy said at a news briefing this week. “We want to make sure it’s a one-way street and that we don’t go back.

“With the variants in our state and the level of transmission right now, which is about as high as it is anywhere in the country, we are in the better to be safe than sorry category,” the governor added. “Nobody wants to open this place up more than I do, and I think all of us would also collectively say we would and we are trying to save every single life we can as we do that.”