Can’t find workers? You’re not alone

By Joni Foster, Program Director with EGBI

“Why are American workers becoming harder to find?”, an article this week in The Economist found that total job vacancies nationwide are at the highest level for at least 2 decades. There are plenty of unfulfilled positions, causing a labor shortage, even though employers are offering higher pay. 

The online zine, The Hill, noted that “as of March this year (2021) the U.S. was still 8.4 million jobs short of pre-pandemic levels, a year after the economy lost more than 21 million jobs amid the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The unemployment rate has since dropped to 6 percent, but it does not reflect millions of Americans who left the labor force because of the pandemic. While there are still millions of unemployed people still looking for work, restaurants, bars, fast food, retailers are having trouble hiring to meet the surging demand.”

The Economist article explored three reasons. First, over-generous stimulus checks and bonus unemployment; yet studies don’t back this one up during this pandemic. Stimulus checks were a huge help when there really weren’t jobs available during the height of the pandemic. 

The second reason was the fear factor, the fear of Covid, to work in jobs that are public facing. Hopefully, vaccines should be bringing this reason to a close over the next few months. 

Lastly, the extraordinary reallocation of resources accelerated by the pandemic, meaning the huge shift in where the jobs are both in locations and sectors. McKinsey & Company published a report on Feb 18, 2021 on the future of work after Covid 19 that started with a startling quote: The pandemic accelerated existing trends in remote work, e-commerce, and automation, with up to 25 percent more workers than previously estimated potentially needing to switch occupations.

McKinsey & Company also studied the effect of Covid on women in the workforce, particularly women with children under 10 years old. In an article published March 8, 2021, a study last year found nearly 23 percent of women workers were considering leaving the workforce in 2020. Many women left the workforce to help their children through the school year will likely/hopefully be ready to get back to work in the fall assuming vaccines put the pandemic behind us.

Economists believe that this hiring issue will work itself out in the next several months. In the meantime, a caution to  employers to about offering higher salaries if they can’t sustain that salary into the future. To offer a high salary now just to reduce it later will bring big morale and productivity problems later. 

It might mean, too, that business might start looking at new ways to staff their operations. McKinsey concludes that businesses can start with a granular analysis of what work can be done remotely by focusing on the tasks involved rather than whole jobs. For businesses with jobs with high physical proximity, these are likely to experience the most disruption post-covid. 

Sources:

https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2021/04/29/why-are-american-workers-becoming-harder-to-find
https://thehill.com/policy/finance/550737-summers-pans-biden-focus-on-job-creation-amid-labor-shortage
https://thehill.com/policy/finance/547819-businesses-encounter-hiring-challenges-as-demand-surges
https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/seven-charts-that-show-covid-19s-impact-on-womens-employment#
https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/the-future-of-work-after-covid-19
After winter storms

Texas Winter storms and your Insurance

By Alejandra de la Torre, Alejandra de la Torre Agent State Farm Insurance

As the ice thaws, Texans are getting a better understanding of the damages caused by last week’s winter storms. The most common damages suffered were as a result of burst pipes, falling trees and power failures. As home and business owners begin to tackle the cleanup and repairs, they are looking for answers. Some of the questions we are getting in my office are can I be reimbursed for food spoilage? Is tree removal covered? Can I get my hotel stay reimbursed? The answer to these questions can be found in your insurance policy. As this can be a complicated document, it is important to consult your insurance agent to determine what your policy does and does not cover. When deciding whether or not to file a claim, there
are some important things to consider:
– Make sure you check what your deductible is. Many coverage’s are subject to your deductible.
– If you stayed at hotels do to power outage or no water. Many insurance will not cover you hotel stay. If you or your family had to evacuate your home due to storm damage, your policy might cover your cost.
– If you do have a claim keep in mind plumbers and restoration are two to four weeks out. Get your name on as many waiting list as possible. Also insurance companies are dealing with many claims, don’t wait until they call you to get your contractors or plumber.
– Take pictures of everything, before, during and after getting work done…if you think you are taking too many picture take more! Keep every receipt, and itemized list of the damages.
– Keep your family safe and try to mitigate the damage.


In some situations the damage may not be covered by insurance. In these instances, there may still be help available from the federal government. If you have loss that your insurance doesn’t cover consider filing a claim with FEMA. FEMA can’t duplicate benefits for losses covered by insurance however, if insurance does not cover all of your damage, you may be eligible for federal assistance. The fastest way to apply is online at www.disasterassistance.gov.

If you don’t have internet access you can register by calling 800-621-3362 or TTY: 800- 462-7585. The phone lines operate from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. CDT each day.
Here are some Q&A from Texas Department of Insurance
https://www.tdi.texas.gov/consumer/storms/winter-storm-faq.html

Asistencia Para Desastres Por Tormenta Invernal

Pasos para recibir asistencia.
Para ti y tu hogar:

Primero: debes hacer la solicitud o reclamo a tu seguro.
Asistencia a través de Grant de FEMA  está disponible para hogares sin seguro o con seguro insuficiente.
Requisitos de ciudadanía: al menos un miembro del hogar debe ser ciudadano o residente legal de los EE. UU. (puede incluso ser un niño menor de edad que sea ciudadano o residente legal de los EE. UU. con un padre o representante solicitando en su nombre).
La asistencia de FEMA es una Subvención (Grant) y no tiene que ser reembolsada, y no afecta tus impuestos. No tiene ningún efecto sobre el Seguro Social, Medicaid u otros programas de bienestar.
Pueden ser utilizados para gastos de vivienda temporal, gastos de alojamiento, reparación del hogar, reemplazo del hogar, construcción de vivienda permanente y de cuidado de niños, gastos médicos y dentales, gastos de funeral y entierro, daños a los artículos del hogar, combustible para la fuente de calor primaria, artículos de limpieza, daños a vehículos esenciales, mudanza, almacenamiento y otros gastos o necesidades serias según lo determine FEMA.

Para tu negocio:

Primero:  debes hacer la solicitud o reclamo a tu seguro.  
Préstamos por desastre de la SBA
– Préstamo para desastres físicos para empresas
– Préstamo por desastre por daños económicos (EIDL)
– Préstamos para viviendas por desastre
Se pueden otorgar múltiples préstamos por desastre ya que se emitieron múltiples declaraciones de emergencia (Covid y Winter Disaster). No puede haber superposición (gastos duplicados) en lo que respecta a los fondos, pero dos préstamos por desastre separados pueden estar activos para las dos declaraciones.
Debes tener un historial crediticio aceptable para la SBA
Debes demostrar tener la capacidad de reembolso
Debes tener un colateral para préstamos de más de $ 25K
El tope para préstamos es de $2 millones; interés entre 1,25% y 6%; términos de 7 a 30 años.

Winter Disaster Assistance

By Joni Foster, EGBI Program Director

For you and your household

  • First: Claim against your Insurance
  • FEMA grant assistance available for uninsured or underinsured households.
  • Citizenship requirements: A member of the household must be a citizen, non-citizen national or qualified alien of the US, including a minor child who is a citizen, non-citizen national or qualified alien of the US with a parent or guardian in the house applying on their behalf.
  • FEMA assistance does not have to be repaid and is not taxable income. It has no effect on Social Security, Medicaid or other social safety net programs.
  • Temporary housing, lodging expenses, home repair, home replacement permanent housing construction AND child care expenses, medical and dental expenses, funeral and burial expenses, damage to household items, fuel for primary heat source, clean up items, damage to essential vehicles, moving, storage and other expenses or serious needs as determined by FEMA.

For your business

  • First: Claim against your insurance
  • SBA Disaster Loans
    • Business Physical Disaster Loan
    • Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)
    • Home Disaster Loans
  • Multiple disaster loans can be given since multiple declarations were declared. (Covid and Winter Disaster) There cannot be any overlap(double dipping) as far as funds go, but two separate disaster loans can be active for the two declarations. 
  • Credit history acceptable to SBA
  • Show repayment ability
  • Collateral needed for loans over $25K
  • $2 million ceiling; interest rate between 1.25 and 6%; terms from 7 – 30 years

2021 COVID-19 Small Business Relief on the Way for EGBI Clients

By Joni Foster, EGBI Program Director

Applications for the new $900 billion COVID-19 small business relief package begin for new borrowers the week of Jan 11, 2021 from community financial institutions like PeopleFund in Austin. What this means for small business owners:

  • If you did not apply for a SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan in 2020, you could be eligible for a First Draw PPP loan under this new legislation starting Jan 11, 2021.
  • If you received a PPP loan in 2020, you could be eligible for a Second Draw PPP Loan under the new COVID-19 relief package starting Jan 13th.
  • If you did not apply for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL loan) in 2020, there is additional money in the legislation to fund new loans.

Major rules relevant to EGBI small business clients

The following is a quick glance at the Interim Rules for the PPP. Please refer to the SBA for the complete regulations or talk to your lender about your specific situation.

  • Small businesses apply for PPP loans from financial institutions. Talk to your lender. If you don’t have a lender, the SBA will roll out funds to community financial institutions like PeopleFund, LiftFund, BCL of Texas before banks and credit unions. Use this link to get on PeopleFund’s waiting list for a PPP loan: https://peoplefund.org/covid-19-loan-programs/
  • The loan is guaranteed by the SBA. No collateral is required. No personal guarantee is required. The borrow will not pay any fees for the loan. Lender must make a one-time disbursement of the loan within 10 days of approval.
  • The full amount of both First Draw and Second Draw PPP loans may be forgiven if used according to law.  The interest rate is 1% for 5 years for any part not forgiven.
  • Small businesses are eligible if you were in operation by February 15, 2020 and have less than 500 employees. Documents that can establish your eligibility: payroll records, payroll tax filings, Form 1099-MISC, Schedule C or F, income and expenses from a sole proprietorship, or bank records.
  • Second Draw Loans have special eligibility criteria:
  • Borrower for a Second Draw Loan must prove a revenue reduction of 25% or greater in any one quarter in 2020 compared to the same quarter in 2019. This provision appears to make start-up businesses ineligible for a Second Draw Loan if they did not have significant revenue in 2019.
  • Business has 300 or fewer employees.
  • Borrower must use the full amount of the First Draw Loan on eligible expenses before the second loan is disbursed.
  • You don’t have to apply for forgiveness for your First Draw loan before you apply for a Second Draw Loan. The forgiveness process for the First Draw Loan should be clarified and simplified by the end of January 2021. You have 10 months from the end of your loan forgiveness period (typically 24 weeks after disbursement of the loan) to apply for forgiveness. Contact your lender to apply for forgiveness.
  • The FORMULA for PPP loans is the same as last time, 2.5 times your monthly payroll costs and may include owner’s net profit in lieu of payroll as calculated on the Schedule C for 2019 or 2020.
  • Payroll costs consist of compensation to employees (whose principal place of residence is the United States) in the form of salary, wages, commissions, or similar compensation; cash tips or the equivalent (based on employer records of past tips or, in the absence of such records, a reasonable, good-faith employer estimate of such tips); payment for vacation, parental, family, medical, or sick leave; allowance for separation or dismissal; payment for the provision of employee benefits consisting of group health care or group life, disability, vision, or dental insurance, 62 including insurance premiums, and retirement; payment of state and local taxes assessed on compensation of employees; and for an independent contractor or sole proprietor, wages, commissions, income, or net earnings from self-employment, or similar compensation.
  • USES of the loan: At least 60% of the loan must be used for payroll costs; the remaining 40% may be used” to support the ongoing operations” such as:
  • Mortgage interest payments
  • Rent
  • Utility
  • Interest on debts prior to Feb.15, 2020
  • Refinancing an SBA EIDL locan made between Jan 31, 2020 and April 3, 2020
  • Covered operations expenditures such as business software or cloud computing service that facilitates business operations, product or service delivery, the processing, payment, or tracking of payroll expenses, human resources, sales and billing functions, or accounting or tracking of supplies, inventory, records and expenses
  • Property damange related to vandalism and looting due to public disturbances that occurred in 2020 that were not covered by insurance
  • Certain supplier costs that were essential
  • Certain worker protection expenditures

*****************************************************************

As background, the Relief legislation will be administered by the US Small Business Administration (SBA) and included:

  •  $284 billion for a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The new relief package includes:
  • additional funding for new PPP loans
  • the ability to obtain a second PPP loan for small businesses facing significant revenue declines in any 2020 quarter compared to the same quarter in 2019
  • clarifications providing for the deductibility of business expenses paid with forgiven PPP loans (a material change from existing IRS guidance)
  • loan eligibility for Section 501(c)(6) not-for-profit organizations for the first time
  • $15 billion for live venues, independent movie theaters and cultural institutions
  • $20 million for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program

For more information about the Interim Rules:

 Business Loan Program Temporary Changes; Paycheck Protection Program as Amended by Economic Aid Act

https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/2021-01/PPP%20–%20IFR%20–%20Paycheck%20Protection%20Program%20as%20Amended%20by%20Economic%20Aid%20Act%20%281.6.2021%29.pdf

Second Draw Loan provisions

https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/2021-01/PPP%20–%20IFR%20–%20Second%20Draw%20Loans%20(1.6.2021).pdf

How to calculate maximum loan amounts by business types (particularly self-employed)

https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/How-to-Calculate-Loan-Amounts-508_6-26-20.pdf

Mata el tiempo haciendo estas 10 cosas durante la cuarentena

  1. Comunícate con un amigo o amiga que no hayas contactado en una semana
  2. Llena tu encuesta anual de EGBI así Barbra dejara de estresarse.
  3. Ayuda a dar forma al futuro de tu comunidad. Llenando el Censo.
  4. Publica algo en las redes sociales de tu empresa.
  5. No se te olvide estirarte 30 segundos al día.
  6. Organiza tu Cajón de baratijas o basura
  7. Agrega algo positivo en tus redes sociales personales
  8. Da una caminata a alrededor de la cuadra y respira aire fresco.
  9. Revisa la página de EGBI sobre recursos para COVID-19
  10. Limpia tu armario y prepárate con un nuevo estilo para cuando esto termine.
telecommuting

Telecommuting Resources

Due to the current unprecedented events, many of us have been forced to move our work remotely or adjust to a new way of communicating from our homes. Now the questions is, where do I even start? Here is a quick go to list to begin.

DropBox  Bring your files and cloud content together with the tools your team wants to use.

Free Conference Call provides HD audio conferencing, screen sharing and video conferencing with up to 1000 participants. Sign up for a free account.

Google Free access to Hangouts Meet, which allows up to 250 participants and live streaming up to 100,000 viewers per domain, and G-suite until July 1, 2020 .

Jamm Free platform for voice and video collaboration for teams working remotely (integrates with Slack) .

Loom Video recording and sharing service offering boosts to free service plan, discounted prices on LoomPro, and free access for educational institutions through July 1, 2020 . There is no recording limit until July 1, 2020.

Microsoft 365Free 6 month trial of Microsoft 365 E1, with web-based Office apps and business services including email, file storage and sharing, meetings, and instant messaging 

Webex– Video Conferencing, Online Meetings and Screen Share 

Zoom  Online video and web conferencing platform .

Updates During the Covid-19 Crisis

EGBI offers small business owners’ guidance for how to keep your business afloat in the time of Covid-19. These tips are compiled from various websites, conference calls, and conversations over the past two weeks and are SUBJECT to CHANGE from day to day. These tips are not a substitute for legal guidance and your own investigation. Use this guide to point you to things you should be thinking about.

Governmental Health and Safety Orders

  • Federal covis-19 orders trump State Covid-19 orders. State orders trump local orders, but right now in Texas the governor is allowing cities and counties to pass stronger orders than the state.

If you violate the orders, you could be arrested and fined up to $1200 per offense.

The link to the current State of Texas current Covid-19 orders HERE.

Austin Covid-19 information:  http://www.austintexas.gov/COVID19

Keeping your business afloat

You have a couple of choices for Revenue:

  • Stay open and generate revenue if possible, based on your city/county public health response orders)
  • Use the assets of the company (checking, savings and investments)
  • Make a loan to the business from your personal assets
  • Existing line of credit with a financial institution. It is unlikely that you would be able to get a line of credit in the middle of a crisis. If you do have a line of credit, be prepared that the financial institution might cancel it during the crisis.
  • SBA disaster loan – currently – Apply directly with SBA. SBA will determine the loan amount. Must have business financial records and tax returns to prove your need. Loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere Businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible.
  • If you are declined an SBA loan, they will follow up with you to review your application. Don’t take NO the first time. Check out the Press Release.
  • You can start filling out the documents you will need:

SBA Form 413Personal Financial Statement

  • SBA Covid-19 disaster loans – proposed – as part of the 3rd bill that congress is debating, part of the proposal is that small businesses would apply for SBA Covid-19 disaster loans through financial institutions; offering working capital to keep the business open and staff in place even while there is no revenue; and potentially loan proceeds for wages might be forgiven in an effort to keep people employed.
  • Other disaster loans as they become available from cities and counties.
  • Unemployment compensation – Self-employed people may apply if you have a loss of 50% of revenue or more as verified by financial records and IRS tax records.

You have a couple of choices for lowering Expenses: (use the same thinking for your personal expenses)

  • Insurance – pay your insurance: health and business (if you remain open) Once you miss a payment, you are without insurance.
  • State Sales Tax – CALL AND GET ON A PAYMENT PLAN send them their money when its due.
  • Key People – You want to take care of your people so that they will return to you after the crisis.
  • Employees: Read your Employee handbook. These will tell you how your business will treat your employees for termination, sick leave and vacation time.
    • Employees will qualify for unemployment compensation if they have lost significant revenue from their job or have had to reduce hours because of government orders. The waiting period for unemployment compensation has been waived. APPLY early. They are very busy. (Employers can request a waiver from an increase in unemployment insurance caused by employees filing claims because of Covid-19)
    • Furlough (pay benefits but not wages for employees you hope will return after the crisis) vs termination (end employment). Your employees are the backbone of your business.
    • If you don’t have an employee handbook, at a minimum write down your leave policies.
  • Loans – start talking to ALL your lenders about deferring payments.
    • Have your account number ready.
    • GET THE PERSONS NAME, a physical address and an email. After your conversation, send them an email recapping what was agreed on. MAKE A PAPER TRAIL.
    • They might tell you that you can defer now but will have to pay off in a few short months. You might be able to catch up payments in a few months via an SBA loan (more about that later).
  • Foreclosures won’t happen immediately – courts are closed to non-emergency actions; HUD, Fannie and Freddie (mortgage buyers) have stated they will not foreclose or evict during the crisis.
  • Vendors – check with all to see what they are willing to do. For instance, ATT has offered to defer phone bills under certain situations.
  • Reduce expenses: save as much as you can to be able to keep paying employees
  • Start preparing financial plans for 2 months, 4 months, and ramp up when this is over. (EGBI can help)

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (law passed last week)

  • Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or childcare unavailability if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.
  • Employee must have worked one month to be eligible
  • Two Weeks (2) / Eighty (80) Hours paid sick leave ( for Coronavirus) at usual rate
  • Cannot force employee to use other accrued leave first
  • Eligible employees may take up to twelve (12) weeks of job-protected FMLA leave where they are unable to work or telework because of a need for leave to care for a son or daughter if their (primary or secondary) school or place of care has been closed, or their child-care provider is unavailable, because of a public health emergency declared with respect to COVID-19- coronavirus.
  • The first 10 days of FMLA leave is unpaid, but employees may elect to substitute accrued vacation, personal leave, or sick leave for the unpaid leave under this section.
  • An employer may not require such substitution.
  • After the 10 days are exhausted, employers must pay the employee not less than two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay for each day of FMLA leave taken thereafter, capped at $200 per day, and $10,000 in the aggregate.
  • House Bill 6201
  • What Employers need to know about Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Switching to a delivery service.

  • Insurance: if your business is moving to a delivery service using employee vehicles, make sure they have auto insurance and make sure they call their insurance company and let them know they will be using their vehicle in part for business.
    • Employer insurance: ask your insurance for a “drop down policy” to also cover the business for any auto insurance issues.

Succession planning – who can keep your business going if you were to get sick or worse.

  • Speak to an attorney about your LLC operating agreements and your estate planning documents and who can operate your business when you are not available
  • Ask about a Special power of attorney vs durable power of attorney

IRS

Lastly, small business owners can schedule telephone or Zoom coaching sessions with EGBI staff. For current clients, coaching is free during the crisis. Please visit our website for staff contact information and updated information at www.egbi.org.

Online Tips to Improve Your Business Productivity

By Nara Lee

Is your business experiencing down time?  How can we make the most of these  unexpected weeks for our small businesses? Change this time into your chance to improve your business productivity through some online activities!  Here are some tips for your work online. 

  • Prepare for incoming questions and requests

People might be facing a lot of unexpected difficulties which could last longer than what we originally anticipating. In this situation, small business owners shouldn’t panic and must prepare for incoming questions and requests from clients. For instance, the owner of a restaurant business adjust his business to now offer delivery services and prepare for cancellation calls.

  • Create and organize your client email list

You probably haven’t had enough time to create and organize your email list because of your busy schedule, but this is a necessity for all business owners. Creating and organizing email list helps you find out whom to send event information for your business marketing. When you’re organizing the list you also need to segment it, consider the type of customers you will communicate to like potential customers and current clients.

  • Make a website or rebuild your business website

After this period, you may not have the time to rebuild your business website. Take this chance to improve it which you’ve been put off for a long time. If you still don’t have your business website, I have some suggestions for website tools. Squarespace, Wix, Bigcommerce, Weebly, and WordPress are well-known website builders and Google my business also offers free website builder for small businesses.

Don’t be frustrated by this global crisis that came from the virus. You can overcome this hard time by improving your online work productivity!

DEDUCIONES POR MILLAJE EN EL 2020

Por: Carlos Nazario CPA, JD

Los contribuyentes tienen la opción de elegir la deducción del costo del uso de su vehículo por tasa de millaje estándar o los costos reales implicados. El mejor enfoque es poder calcular ambos costos y tomar la mayor deducción.

  • A partir del 1 de enero de 2020, las tarifas de millaje estándar para el uso de un automóvil (incluyendo furgonetas, camionetas o camiones) serán:
  • 57.5 centavos por milla conducida para uso comercial, menos de medio centavo de la tasa de 2019
  • 17 centavos por milla conducida con fines médicos o de mudanza, tres centavos menos que la tarifa para 2019
  • Y 14 centavos por milla conducida en servicio de organizaciones de caridad.

Entonces, por ejemplo, si en 2019 una empresa usó un automóvil exclusivamente para fines comerciales y lo condujo 15,000 millas, con los siguientes gastos reales: reparaciones y mantenimiento $ 50, gasolina $ 2,000, depreciación $ 3,000, seguro de auto $ 1,500. Los gastos reales suman un total de $ 6,550 y cuando se comparan a la cantidad de millas estándar el total es de 8,626 (15,000 x .575), el contribuyente puede optar por tomar la deducción más alta de $ 8,625.