COVID-19 Survey Results: Immediate impacts are concentrated, severe, and hit small business & low wage workers hardest

More than 86% of businesses in San Diego expect to see revenue losses in the wake of COVID-19, according to an economic impact survey on the San Diego economy.

In order to assess immediate economic impacts and understand the evolving business sentiment, we have deployed a survey with our partners at San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and Imperial Small Business Development Center. The Downtown San Diego Partnership and National City Chamber of Commerce also served as survey partners. The survey will remain open for the foreseeable future so we can chart how responses change over time.

Key Takeaways

Three trends stood out based on what employers told us during the first two weeks of surveying:

  1. Impacts are concentrated by industry. Of the 360 employers planning to reduce staff, 80% are in the food and beverage or tourism industries.
  1. Impacts are immediate. Nearly 94% of employers anticipating staffing reductions and two-thirds of those expecting revenue declines expect those hits within 30 days.
  1. Impacts disproportionately affect small businesses. Employers with annual revenues below $1M anticipate average losses in income of nearly 70%, compared with an average loss of 51% for businesses earning more than $1M annually.

A majority of employers (61%) are in need of capital support. More than half of those with capital needs are the smallest of employers with fewer than 5 employees.

AN Interactive Visualization

Below is an interactive visualization of self-reported impacts to local employers, both in terms of employment and revenue. You can segment the data by industry, number of employees, and typical annual revenue

Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy and the majority of the Chamber’s membership. They account for 98 percent of businesses in the region. Our focus now more than ever is on those small businesses. We are working with local and federal officials to ensure our region’s businesses have what they need to weather this storm. We are focused on resiliency and recovery.

Jerry Sanders, president & CEO, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

Respondent Profile

For up-to-date respondent information on the survey respondents and high level results, please view the responding profile here.
Other key numbers:

  • Number of responses: 642
  • Number of responses in this analysis: 642

While the impacts of COVID-19 are rippling through the entire region, the survey shows that small businesses – which are responsible for a majority of our economic growth – are disproportionately impacted. It’s a long road to recovery, and I want to remind you that EDC’s staff is here to help you access loans and grants, and work one-on-one to triage issues as they arise.

Mark Cafferty, president & CEO, San Diego Regional EDC

Resources for you

San Diego Regional EDC, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, and San Diego and Imperial SBDC offer a variety of resources to help businesses.

If you would like assistance from EDC, please use this form. Once we receive your responses, we will make every effort to reach out to you within 24 hours.

Request EDC assistance

If you are looking for general information about COVID-19, please view this page.

All of us at the San Diego & Imperial SBDC Network know this public health crisis is hitting you, the small business owner, very hard. Know we are here to help. We are still providing all our services, just online. You can still visit and click “request counseling” to get assistance. We are here to help you apply for capital and work through the ways you now have to pivot to get through this time where we all have to be physically distant from one another.

Danny Fitzgerald, San Diego and Imperial Small Business Development Center


*industries include retail trade (excluding groceries and gas stations), wholesale trade, arts & entertainment, accommodation & food services.