Main Street health: How did businesses
fare in September?

Every month, we share our thoughts on the state of Main Street amid the global pandemic. With information from over 60,000 businesses and one million active hourly employees, our data offers insight into how the US small business economy is faring and what we might expect in the coming months ahead. 

You can find the full report here, but here’s a snapshot of what we saw in September.

How did Main Street fare in September (30-second snapshot)?

September saw declines in all three of our small business metrics (businesses open, employees working, and hours worked). Overall, our “employees working” metric declined ~5% in September compared to August. This change is consistent with changes in 2018 and 2019, so it is likely due to seasonality.

Consistent seasonal declines occurred across nearly all US states and top 50 MSAs. One notable exception was New Orleans, which saw ~27% declines in employees working due to Hurricane Ida. 

As expected, seasonal declines are most significant in the entertainment and hospitality industries, which saw ~15% declines in employees working in September. Again, this is consistent with declines in 2019.

Employment declines in September

Employment declines in August continued in September. Our employees working metric declined ~5%. These declines were in line with declines in both hours worked and businesses open. 

Changes mostly due to expected seasonality

While September likely still had some negative impacts from COVID-19, much of these declines can be explained by seasonality. September declined by similar amounts in both 2018 and 2019. Following these trends, we expect changes to be relatively flat in the remaining fall and winter months. 

New Orleans was significantly impacted by Hurricane Ida

While most states saw declines in employees working that were similar to 2019 levels, the declines in New Orleans (and thus Louisiana) were significantly greater. This is due to the acute and lasting effects of Hurricane Ida. 

 

Significant declines in entertainment and hospitality

As expected, seasonal declines were most acutely felt in entertainment and hospitality, which saw ~15% declines in employees working in September 2021. 

How has Homebase data been validated?

We’ve partnered with a number of academics, researchers, and policymakers to validate and improve our data. Here are a few examples: 

  • The St. Louis Federal Reserve suggested that Homebase data could be predictive of the jobs reports
  • Researchers at Yale used Homebase data to determine the impact of expanded UI benefits on employment
  • A team at UChicago and Berkeley used Homebase data to show disparate impacts across different groups

Methodology and definitions

The January 2020 dataset is based on Homebase data gathered from over 60,000 businesses and 1 million hourly employees active in the US in January 2020. All the rates compare that day vs. the average for that day of the week for the period Jan 4, 2020 – Jan 31, 2020. The April 2021 dataset does the same, except it looks at the period April 3, 2021 – April 30, 2021. 

  • “Hours worked” is calculated from hours recorded in Homebase timecards
  • “Locations open” is based on whether a business had at least one employee clock-in
  • “Employees working” is based on the distinct number of hourly workers with at least one clock-in

Questions or comments about our findings?

Contact Ray Sandza (VP, Data & Analytics) or Adam Beasley (Manager, Data Products) to learn more about our findings and our data.

Homebase makes work easier for 100,000+ small (but mighty) businesses with everything they need to manage an hourly team: employee scheduling, time clocks, team communication, hiring, onboarding, and compliance. We are not Human Capital Management. We are not HR Software. We’re tools built for the busiest businesses, so owners and employees can spend less time on paperwork and more time on what matters.

 

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