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Two-thirds of S.C. Chamber survey respondents worry about safety liability

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Results from the S.C. Chamber of Commerce survey released Tuesday show that lack of demand is the greatest challenge business operators are facing, and two-thirds share concerns about workplace safety liability.

The survey results, released by chamber President and CEO Ted Pitts at Tuesday’s accelerateSC task force meeting, represented responses from 4,500 businesses across the state from a variety of sectors, according to the release. Small businesses represent almost 70% of responses.

“The results of this survey clearly show that our businesses are hurting and need for us to take quick action to get them back on track,” Pitts said in the release. “Gov. McMaster lifting the home-or-work order will go a long way toward helping them get back up to operational status, but we must continue to keep the focus on reopening the economy safely for our businesses and employees.”

The survey reported that the second greatest challenge, according to 38% of respondents, was covering payroll, even though 37% of respondents had received federal COVID-19 relief from the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loans or other options, according to the release. An estimated 30% had not yet received the funding they had applied for or were denied for federal financing.

More than 40% of respondents had to lay off or furlough employees, but 90% of these businesses plan to bring an expected 50% of their workforce back within three months. Around 40% of respondents also are considering pay cuts for employees or have already done so due to COVID-19, especially as three out of 10 businesses were or continue to be unable to sell any products under the governor’s orders.

Half of all respondents were able to continue some sales and delivery of services using alternative methods, according to the release. Four out of five businesses will target increased sanitation, social distancing and handwashing in the workplaces over the next six to 12 months.

Health care and social assistance made up the largest specified group of respondents, followed by manufacturing and professional, scientific and technical services.

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