Here are five things that happened this past month that affect your small business. 1) The Senate passed a $1.2T infrastructure package. At the beginning of August, the Senate passed a bipartisan infrastructure package, “the largest upgrade to the country’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports and broadband in decades.” There are a few steps left before this bill becomes law, but it is expected to make its way through the House of Representatives and be signed by President Biden. (Source: The Washington Post) Why this is important for your business: Many aspects of the bill present revitalization prospects for small businesses, including the money set aside for broadband and power infrastructure. 2) We are better understanding how many workers retired early during the pandemic.“Roughly 2 million more people than expected have joined the ranks of the retired during the pandemic,” according to a new analysis. Some of these workers chose to retire early, while others “were forced into retirement after losing their jobs or quitting out of fears of exposure to COVID-19.” (Source: NPR) Why this is important for your business: The economy is changing, and business owners should be aware of how their hiring pool may shift in coming years. With 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day, millennials and Gen Z are set to become an even larger proportion of the workforce. 3) The government opened a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness portal. To help expedite the process of getting PPP loans forgiven, a new portal was opened “through which small businesses that borrowed up to $150,000 can apply to have their loans eliminated.” About 92% of PPP loans fall under this cap. However, some lenders – including some larger banks – are choosing not to use the portal and to stick with their own processes instead. (Source: The New York Times) Why this is important for your business: If you received a PPP loan that has not yet been forgiven, this portal could help you eliminate that debt faster – but only if your lender is allowing it. 4) A judge ruled that California’s gig worker initiative (Proposition 22) is unconstitutional. A California judge has ruled that Proposition 22 – a 2020 ballot measure exempting ride-share and food delivery drivers (think Uber, Doordash, and Instacart) from a state labor law – is unconstitutional “as it infringes on the legislature’s power to set workplace standards.” (Source: Reuters) Why this is important for your business: This is another piece of news on the nationwide battle over the gig economy and worker classification. Continue to pay attention to developments on this issue, as it will likely affect businesses far into the future. 5) Consumer sentiment hit a pandemic-era low as fears over the delta variant rise. The consumer sentiment index fell to 70.2 in the preliminary August reading from the University of Michigan. “That is down more than 13% from July’s result of 81.2 and below the April 2020 mark of 71.8 that was lowest of the pandemic era.” It was also the lowest reading for that measure since 2011. This comes as the delta variant of Covid-19 spreads rapidly across the US, leading to some states reinstating health restrictions. (Source: CNBC) Why this is important for your business: Lower consumer sentiment could be an indicator of diminished economic performance, and some consumers may choose to spend less money if they fear a downturn.