Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Nassau County Executive Laura...

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Nassau County Executive Laura Curran each surveyed businesses in their county to learn how the pandemic is affecting them. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Seven in 10 businesses in Nassau County may lay off employees because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey from Hofstra University.

More than half have already issued pink slips.

A separate survey found similar trends in Suffolk County.

In Nassau, 96% of business owners who responded said sales have dropped due to the coronavirus shutdown, the Hofstra survey found. Sixty percent said sales had fallen more than 50%.

Only 4.8% of business owners expect to report a profit for 2020, and for many it will be less than $100,000.

About 1,400 businesses participated in the online survey held March 24-April 1. More than 80% employ 10 or fewer workers.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, whose new Economic Advisory Council commissioned the survey, called the results “troubling” because they show “there’s already a lot of pain among businesses, their employees and their families.”

Hofstra president Stuart Rabinowitz, who leads the advisory council with Richard Kessel, chairman of the county’s Industrial Development Agency, said the council will endeavor to “assist small businesses and entrepreneurs recover from this crisis."

Kessel said the IDA has hired HR&A Advisors, an economic development consulting firm in Manhattan, to “help us develop programs and seek federal assistance that can be implemented quickly.”

More than eight in 10 Nassau business owners said they are counting on a loan to help them recover from the pandemic’s effects.

Six in 10 said they plan to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan of up to $2 million from the U.S. Small Business Administration. More than 70% require a loan of $100,000 or less, the survey shows.

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Most Nassau businesses expect to survive the coronavirus, with only 0.2% of owners saying they plan to close permanently this year and 7% saying they may close.

In Suffolk, 1.4% of businesses have closed permanently because of the virus, according to an online and telephone survey conducted March 19-April 2.

About 1,280 business owners responded. As a group, the owners employed more than 13,700 people and have laid off or furloughed nearly 7,600 employees, or more than  half the total, said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

“There is a crisis in our economy, there is a crisis that our small businesses face,” he said, adding the construction, retail and service sectors “are the most hard-hit.” He said businesses in downtowns face “tremendous hardships and we will need a strategic and targeted recovery effort there.”

Separately, the LI Main Street Alliance said Friday its telephone and in-person survey of 375 downtown businesses found them to be in "a miserable” condition.

The alliance, which represents downtowns undergoing revitalization, has started a “We Are Open” Facebook page, said founder Eric Alexander. He said more than 1,000 businesses that offer takeout, delivery and online services are participating.