One economic indicator about business activity across the Delaware Valley has been improving since the COVID-19 pandemic began three years ago, according to recently released Federal Reserve of Philadelphia survey data.
Each fall, the Federal Reserve surveys thousands of small business owners nationwide and hundreds in the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington metro area about their financial situation.
About 56% of small business owners said they did not see an uptick in revenue between 2021 and 2022 across the metro area. Inside that figure, 41% saw revenue decline and 15% had no change. There were 350 small businesses with employees represented in the regional survey.
Across Pennsylvania, 55% did not see revenue gains between 2021 and 2022. That’s better than 65% who said the same between 2020 and 2021, and a significant improvement compared to 87% between 2019 and 2020.
Overall, 60% of small business owners across the metro area said their financial situation was poor or fair in 2022.
In the Old City neighborhood businesses that cater to tourists and art collectors alike line the streets. (Kristen Mosbrucker-Garza/WHYY)
“They are both on the right road to recovery and still dealing with some lingering challenges from the pandemic,” said Alaina Barca, a community development research analyst with the Federal Reserve of Philadelphia.
In 2022, small businesses said the top operational challenges were supply chain issues, hiring and keeping qualified workers, and growing sales. As for financial challenges, increased costs, paying for operational expenses, and weak sales were top of the list in 2022.
There are some regional differences. For example, small businesses in Philadelphia reported better financial situations than those in New Jersey but were on par with business activity across Pennsylvania, Barca said.