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Where the Most Small Business Owners Will Be Forced to Close in the Next Month Without Help

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The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated many small businesses. With the number of new coronavirus cases rising again in many parts of the U.S., it’s looking less likely that summer will bring any financial reprieve.

Congress passed a coronavirus relief bill — which included the Paycheck Protection Program — to aid small businesses, but many don’t have enough cash on hand to cover one month’s worth of business expenses.

According to LendingTree’s analysis, between 24% and 40% of small businesses in the nation’s largest 50 metro areas are in danger of having to shut down soon if business doesn’t return to normal.

Key findings

  • Hartford, Conn., tops our list, with 2 in 5 small business owners saying they have less than one month’s worth of cash on hand. A little more than 9% say their cash reserves would last one to seven business days.
  • Our analysis reveals 38% of small business owners in St. Louis have less than one month’s worth of cash. Almost 11% have one week’s worth of cash available or less.
  • Roughly 37% of small businesses in Pittsburgh don’t have enough cash to last longer than one month.
  • Looking at best-case scenarios among the largest 50 metros, only 24% of small businesses in these three metros have less than a month of cash reserves: Portland, Ore., Detroit and Austin, Texas.
  • In four metros — Cleveland, Kansas City, Mo., New York and Providence, R.I. — at least 5% of small businesses say they have no cash on hand.
  • In three coronavirus hot spots — Miami, Phoenix and Dallas — small business owners are finding themselves in different financial positions. In Miami, 36% of businesses say they have less than one month’s worth of cash. In Phoenix and Dallas, 29% and 27% of businesses, respectively, report the same. (Note: These cities are labeled as hot spots based on new cases in the counties in which they’re located.)
  • About 11% of businesses say they don’t know how long their cash reserves will last.

Metros with the least cash on hand

No. 1: Hartford, Conn.

In Hartford — the metro with the least cash on hand — about 40% of small businesses report their cash reserves would cover less than one month of business expenses. Here, 18.1% say they think their cash reserves would last one to two weeks, though 0% of small businesses reported having no cash on hand.

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Hartford County has fallen in the past two weeks, though the numbers are steady across Connecticut during that same period.

No. 2: St Louis

St. Louis ranked second with 38% of small businesses reporting that their cash reserves would last less than one month. Unlike Hartford, St. Louis has small businesses that say they have no cash reserves. According to our analysis, 2.6% of small businesses here say they have nothing left, which is more than the average from the 50 largest metros of 2.3%.

As of July 8, many businesses in this city are allowed to operate at 50% capacity, allowing them to make up some of their lost revenues. That being said, the number of coronavirus cases in St. Louis County and the state are rising over the past two weeks.

No. 3: Pittsburgh

Roughly 37% of small business owners in Pittsburgh say they only have enough cash for less than one month. Nearly 16% of small business owners say they think their cash reserves would last between one to two weeks.

Coronavirus cases in Allegheny County — where Pittsburgh is located — and surrounding counties are steadily rising over the past two weeks.

How the Paycheck Protection Program affected cash reserves

More than $520 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loan assistance has been provided to nearly five million businesses nationwide. The Census Bureau data suggests this has positively impacted small business cash reserves.

At the end of April, nearly 6.8% of small businesses said they had no cash available. The most recent data shows that figure has fallen to 2.4%. At the same time, the percentage of small businesses saying their cash reserves could last more than three months rose from 16.7% to 27.4%.

With the PPP program winding down and coronavirus cases picking back up, we may see more businesses start to run out of cash reserves or close if outbreaks worsen.


To rank the places where small business owners had the least cash on hand, we analyzed results from the Census Bureau’s Small Business Pulse Survey. We found the percentage of small business owners in the 50 largest metro areas who had cash reserves of less than one month and ranked them from highest to lowest. The survey covers the period from June 20 to June 27. Information on coronavirus cases, as of July 13, comes from The New York Times.


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