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The Impact of Natural Disasters on Small Businesses

The 2021 Small Business Credit Survey (SBCS) found that 1 in 10 small employer businesses suffered losses from a natural disaster during the prior 12 months.1 According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, the United States experienced 20 billion-dollar natural disasters in 2021, making it one of the costliest years in recent history.2 Major events included Hurricane Ida, the historic cold wave in Texas and other southern states, and the destructive wildfire season in the West. To more deeply explore the impact of these and other natural disasters on small businesses, the SBCS includes a module of natural disaster-related questions for affected firms. This fact sheet outlines some of the major findings from the 2021 SBCS for employer firms with respect to natural disaster impact.

  1. The SBCS uses a convenience sample of firms. To control for potential biases, the sample data are weighted to match the distribution of employer firms in the United States by number of employees, firm age, industry, geographic location, gender of owner(s), and race or ethnicity of owner(s). This analysis uses the employer firm weights described in the methodology of the 2022 Report on Employer Firms. The SBCS data in this report are largely drawn from an optional end-of-survey module completed by 938 employer firms affected by natural disasters in the prior 12 months. Return to 1
  2. Source: 2021 U.S. billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in historical context | NOAA Return to 2