During July, record-breaking heatwaves had a significant impact on the United States, particularly in the South and Southwest regions, affecting hundreds of millions of Americans.
Small businesses and their employees faced significant challenges due to scorching temperatures. A recent report by Homebase, a small business payroll company, highlighted how local economies suffered as businesses had to close early and reduce employee working hours.
This extreme heat led consumers to stay indoors, resulting in decreased foot traffic for businesses and changes in consumer behavior.
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The report revealed that small business employees across the nation worked 0.9% fewer hours during the first two weeks of July compared to the last two weeks of June, which is a typical seasonal change in the summer months.
However, in the hardest-hit cities, the slowdown was up to five-and-a-half times higher, with significant reductions in employee working hours.
For instance, in cities like New Orleans and Memphis, employees worked 5.7% and 5.1% fewer hours than in June, respectively. Business owners in these areas had to adjust their hours to accommodate fewer customers and protect their employees from excessive heat exposure.
On the other hand, cities like Boston, experiencing shorter heatwaves, saw an increase in employee working hours.
Nonetheless, the situation raised concern, especially for labor-intensive outdoor industries, as some employers were not required to make accommodations for extreme heat, putting workers at risk of heat-related injuries.
Heat impacted workers
Danah Lee, an employee at Willie’s Taco Joint in Phoenix, experienced firsthand how the extreme heat impacted businesses and workers. She explained the challenges of working long hours in such conditions and the need for shorter shifts to prevent heat exhaustion.
This spotlight on the issue emphasizes the urgency for federal oversight and measures to protect workers during extreme heat conditions.
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Small businesses and workers are facing the brunt of these heatwaves, demanding collective efforts to ensure their safety and well-being during such challenging times.