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Man looking at numbers with magnifying glass in September of last year, 17% of small employers and 44% of medium-sized employers said their financial position had improved significantly–those numbers fell to 10% and 38%, respectively, in November.

Businesses continue to express caution about the future as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on. Many business owners say they are more uncertain now than just a few months ago about recovery from the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. Smaller and rural-based employers are harder-hit than larger employers.

The Principal Financial Wellbeing Index focused on how the latest surge of coronavirus infections has affected small and medium-sized businesses. The financial services company has been following the impact of the pandemic on these businesses and how they’re adapting, comparing results over time.

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