Home Business Asian American businesses hit especially hard by COVID crisis: report

Asian American businesses hit especially hard by COVID crisis: report

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Asian American business owners have struggled particularly hard during the coronavirus pandemic while also grappling with fears of increased hate crimes, according to a new report.

Asian-owned businesses lost a larger chunk of their sales than others during the first wave of COVID-19 lockdowns last year — and many had trouble accessing government aid meant to keep them afloat, Reuters reported Wednesday.

One JPMorgan Chase Institute report, for instance, found that revenues for a typical Asian-owned firm had plummeted by more than 60 percent at the end of March 2020, compared to a roughly 50 percent drop for other businesses.

The disproportionate blow came despite the fact that just 9 percent of Asian American businesses were financially distressed in the year before the pandemic, about half the rate for black-owned firms, according to the Reuters story citing New York Federal Reserve research.

Asian businesses suffered in part because they’re concentrated in industries that largely shut down last spring to stem the spread of the virus, such as food services and retail, the news agency reported.

But a lack of banking relationships as well as language barriers made it harder for many Asian entrepreneurs to get help from initiatives such as the Paycheck Protection Program, the report says.

Making matters worse, Asian people have been targeted by an increase in racist attacks that’s been linked to the pandemic.

A man walks through a deserted Chinatown Central Plaza, decorated in February 2021 for Lunar New Year, in Los Angeles, one of the largest Asian-American communities in the US.
A man walks through a deserted Chinatown Central Plaza in Los Angeles, one of the largest Asian-American communities in the US.
AFP via Getty Images

The staff at Lam’s Seafood Market, a Vietnamese American-owned grocery store in Seattle, was shaken recently when an Asian American clerk was hit in the face on his way home, according to Reuters.

While it’s not clear whether the attack was a hate crime, “We basically tell everyone to make sure you travel in pairs as much as you can,” Teizi Mersai, the store’s business operations manager, told the outlet.