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Working Papers

The Impact of COVID-19 on Small and Medium-sized Enterprises: Evidence from Two-wave Phone Surveys in China

Rouchen Dai , Hao Feng , Junpeng Hu , Quan Jin , Huiwen Li , Ranran Wang , Ruixin Wang , Lihe Xu and Xiaobo Zhang
September 14, 2020
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This paper examines both the short-term and mid-term impact of COVID-19 restrictions on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), based on two waves of phone interviews with a previously surveyed large SME sample in China. The outbreak of COVID-19 and resultant lockdowns cast a heavy toll on SMEs. Affected by problems of logistics blocks, labor shortages, and drops in demand, 80 percent of SMEs temporarily closed at the time of the first wave of interviews in February 2020. After reining in COVID-19, authorities largely eased lockdown restrictions in April. Consequently, most SMEs had reopened by the time of the second round of surveys in May. However, many firms, particularly export firms, ran at partial capacity, primarily due to inadequate demand. Moreover, around 18 percent of SMEs closed for good between the two waves of surveys from February to May, shedding 14 percent of total jobs. 

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