A reality check on how small businesses were really affected by the government shutdown: Survey

The recent government shutdown hit federal workers the hardest, with some or forced to work without pay. But small businesses across the United States had to deal with unexpected trickle-down effects that caused disruption and uncertainty.

As one small-business owner in Maryland noted, “I live in a community with several government agencies. When my community is affected, I am affected.”

The clearest problem for small businesses was the dropoff in customers, as many federal workers or contractors — or those with federal workers in their family — were suddenly less willing or less able to spend money.

According to the latest , 35 percent of small-business owners nationwide said they experienced a “sales slowdown” attributable to the lack of demand from nearby federal workers. Another 13 percent reported the “direct loss of revenue from a contract with a government agency.”

The survey was conducted by SurveyMonkey from Jan. 28–Feb. 4, across the country.

The degree of this revenue loss is tricky to measure, as small businesses span the full range of industries, from mom-and-pop corner stores to restaurants, health-care providers and technical consulting firms.