New data from tech giant Facebook reveals that New York and Pennsylvania, both Democratic strongholds run by Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Tom Wolf respectively, have had the greatest number of small businesses in the nation crumble during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Facebook study makes an effort to skirt the issue of lockdowns and claims that “strictness of [non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as lockdowns] did not seem to be correlated with higher rates of closed [small and medium-sized businesses].” The rational follow-up is, given the extensive data that points otherwise, how is this hypothesis even drawn?
Facebook published its first “Global State of Small Business Report,” which collected data from more than 35,000 small businesses in 27 countries affected by the pandemic and, evidently, government responses. The report found that New York and Pennsylvania maintained the highest rate of small business closure in the United States, tied at 31 percent.
The new information comes days before Cuomo is set to increase state taxes as part of a $212 billion spending plan. Taxes will reportedly increase by $4.3 billion dollars. The fiscal year 2021-2022 plan supported by the governor will increase personal taxes for people making over $1 million a year and for couples earning over $2 million a year. In addition, the plan intends to increase the corporate franchise tax rate for businesses earning $5 million or more a year in profits. The New York Senate signed off on the measure on Wednesday, and four of the 10 provisions will head to the State Assembly for a vote.
Similarly, in February, Wolf proposed a $37.8 billion spending plan, which includes the first personal income tax increase in Pennsylvania since 2003, as first noted by Penn live. The state’s personal income tax rate would move from 3.07 percent to 4.49 percent and allocate about half of all funding to the public education system. In addition to this tax hike, Wolf proposed a $12 minimum wage “with a path to $15/hour,” and $145 million in reserves from the Workers Compensation Security Fund to go toward small businesses — those that have somehow survived his harsh pandemic restrictions, that is.
New York leads the pack for the most reductions in employment across the country — at 38 percent. New York is second only to Hawaii in having the highest unemployment rate in the U.S., at 8.9 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Pennsylvania ranks not much higher at 40, with an unemployment rate of 7.3 percent. Even while the state forced businesses to shutter their doors, it did not stop the death rate from climbing. In terms of COVID-19 death rates, New York ranks second in the nation with 259 per 100,000 people. Pennsylvania ranks 11th-highest in death rates, at 198 per 100,000 people, according to data from Becker’s Hospital Review.
Analytics firm TrendMacro published a report in September citing that states that instituted harsh lockdowns like New York and Pennsylvania fared worse economically and even had more severe outbreaks than freer states. “The five places with the harshest lockdowns — the District of Columbia, New York, Michigan, New Jersey and Massachusetts — had the heaviest caseloads,” the study noted.