Ravaged Tribal Economies May Not Rebound From Covid Shock

The Covid-19 pandemic has been especially brutal to America’s original citizens.

Tribal communities and economies are getting decimated by the prolonged public health crisis and its federal mismanagement. New findings from the Minneapolis Fed sugget many businesses don’t expect life to get back to a semblance of normalcy any time soon.

“When asked how long they expect it will take for their business to return to its pre-pandemic level of activity, tribal business owners express considerable pessimism,” according to the report from the regional Fed’s Center for Indian Country Development.

Just 16% say that their business has kept operating at normal capacity, returned to its normal level, or will get back to the norm within three months, the report said.

Nearly half expect that it will take more than six months to return to normal operations, and more than a quarter expect that their business will effectively never return to its pre-pandemic baseline.

“Similarly worrisome was the finding that only 20% say they have enough cash on hand, which includes financial assistance and loans, for more than three months of operations,” the report said.

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The survey was based on a partnership between the Minneapolis Fed and the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, and received responses from 400 business owners.

Respondents reported sharp revenue declines which they do not project will be reversed any time soon. About 68% of businesses have seen at least a 20 percent revenue reduction. About one in six businesses reports having lost all of its revenue as of mid-July.

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