Published in Small Business

Survey: Majority of small business owners oppose vaccine mandate amid staffing shortages

BY Monday, September 20, 2021 03:55pm

A majority of Michigan small businesses oppose President Biden’s recently announced vaccine mandate as staffing shortages and rising costs remain the biggest obstacles for business owners, according to a new survey by the Small Business Association of Michigan.

The SBAM survey was conducted from Sept. 10-17, shortly after Biden announced sweeping COVID-19 vaccine requirements on Sept. 9. The announcement included a vaccine mandate for all federal employees and contractors, as well as a requirement that all employers with 100 or more employees have workers vaccinated or test for COVID-19 at least once a week.

Of the 680 small business owners who responded to the SBAM survey, 58 percent opposed the vaccine mandate, 29 percent were in favor, and 13 percent expressed no opinion.

“It’s not surprising that most business owners oppose the vaccine mandate, especially given the worker shortage,” SBAM President Brian Calley said in a statement. “This federal overreach threatens to make a difficult staffing situation even worse.”

Meanwhile, a separate poll of 600 voters earlier this month commissioned by the Detroit Regional Chamber found that respondents were split on legislation that would prohibit employers from requiring employees to get vaccinated. The poll found 48 percent of respondents supported such a policy while 47 percent opposed, leading employers to likely pause on considering vaccine mandates, the Detroit News reported

Michigan residents 16 and older who have received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine make up 66.7 percent of the total population across the state, according to the latest state data.

Rising wages

The SBAM survey also revealed that 62 percent of employers who responded to the survey increased wages since the start of 2020 to attract and maintain employees. Moreover, 24 percent of respondents said they increased employee compensation by more than 10 percent since January 2020.

A little more than half of the small businesses that responded  — 55 percent — reported reduced revenues in 2020 compared to 2019, and 29 percent of those small businesses experienced a decline of more than 25 percent. However, 83 percent of employers surveyed by SBAM expect revenues to stabilize or increase in 2021.

The SBAM survey also found:

  • 77 percent of businesses reported that COVID-19 had a negative effect on their business in 2020, and 67 percent of businesses are still feeling the effects.
  • 79 percent of businesses reported higher cost increases than before the pandemic.
  • 64 percent of employers surveyed said it’s significantly harder to keep their business fully staffed.
  • 19 percent of businesses have increased their workforce since January 2020, even in the face of labor shortages and lost revenues, while 47% of small businesses expect to grow employment levels over the next year.
  • 16 percent of small business owners are pessimistic about the long-term survival of their company.
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