Tens (perhaps hundreds) of thousands of female-owned small businesses have closed for good. Many others risk collapsing soon. That is the economic picture we’re gathering from various surveys of the nation’s small businesses.

In 2019, there were nearly 12 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. The top industries for these firms: other services such as hair and nail salons or pet grooming; healthcare and social assistance; and professional services such as bookkeeping, law firms, and PR firms. Food and accommodations businesses are among the most popular employers among female firms.  

Although many entrepreneurs have jobs that can be done virtually, many others do not. Nail salon and cafe owners service their customers in person. Therefore, shelter-in-place orders, restrictions on the capacity for indoor activities, and other mandates have hit some women-owned businesses harder than others.

Although we do not know exactly how many businesses have shuttered for good, we do know that many have.

Take a look at the shocking statistics from these surveys:

  1. 110,000. As of December 1st, 17 percent (110,000) of all eating and drinking places are completely closed or not open for business in any capacity. (National Restaurant Association)
  2. 98,000. Some 180,000 businesses indicated they closed at the beginning of the pandemic, but by the end of the summer 97,966 of those say they permanently closed. (Yelp
  3. 15 percent. Fifteen percent of small companies with a Facebook profile were forced out of business. (Facebook)
  4. 47 percent. Less than half of women-owned small businesses surveyed say they were in good health in July falling 13 points from Q1. The percentage of male-owned small businesses characterizing their business health as good dropped just five points from Q1 (from 67 percent to 62 percent). (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)
  5. 54 percent. Over half of female small business owners surveyed fear they will have to permanently close their businesses. (Groupon)

The rebounding labor market has been a ray of hope during the pandemic storm. With a vaccine ready to roll, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

However, although millions of workers have returned to work, many entrepreneurs and small business owners have shut their doors for good. 

The loss of a life to coronavirus is certainly immeasurable. At the same time, the lockdowns and draconian measures that lawmakers are reimposing this winter are hard to justify and have business owners asking for the science behind their decisions as my colleague Charlotte Hayes wrote

There are also other social harms and educational failures due to the pandemic response. All of these have to be weighed when considering how to get through the next phase of this pandemic before we can return to normal.