Why black-owned businesses were hit the hardest by the pandemic

by Jada Braelynn

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While small businesses across the country struggle amid shutdowns, the brunt of the impact has fallen on black-owned businesses.

According to a recent study for the National Bureau of Economic Research by Robert Fairlie at the University of California at Santa Cruz, the number of black business owners actively working fell 41% from February to April—representing a massive loss of 440,000 black business owners. The number of black business owners who were working in April was 640,000, down from 1.1 million. Active white business owners dropped 17%.

Fairlie, the author of the study, tells Fortune he was “shocked” at the findings. But those like Eugene Cornelius, senior director at the Milken Institute’s Center for Regional Economics and California Center and alum of the Small Business Administration, don’t think anyone should be surprised.

“What is amazing is everybody is asking why—we knew this,” he tells Fortune. “The virus has pulled the sheet off of what has been going on in the black community for years.”

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