Lisa Beilfusscover story for the latest Barron’s focuses on the challenges facing American small businesses in the pandemic’s wake.

The owner of Diamond Dental Lab in Des Plaines, Ill., furloughed his staff of nine in late March after the state ordered dental practices to close for all but emergency visits and his customers stopped putting in orders for the crowns, bridges, and implants that his small business has made for the past 20 years.

Illinois lifted the coronavirus restrictions on dentists in early May, but Mike Bridge says most of his dentist clients are still closed as they try to get new safety protocols and personal protective equipment in line. His revenue was down 95% in April, and it isn’t any better this month.

“We survived 9/11, [the financial crisis in] 2008, and hopefully we’ll survive this, but this is the hardest one,” Bridge says. “Business never entirely dried up before.” His application for a loan under the federal Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP , was approved on May 18, but there’s still not enough business to bring back employees.

Versions of what’s happening at Bridge’s business have been playing out across the country for the past two months, as lockdown measures have disrupted individual businesses and entire industries. While the virus is affecting companies large and small, it’s small businesses—often with smaller cash cushions and less access to credit—that are under greater assault.

Small businesses are responsible for about half of U.S. employment, half of gross domestic product, and 40% of total business revenue. In short, they’re key to the recovery , and yet investors seem to have largely discounted the threat their struggles pose for the broader economy. …

… Yet the length and depth of the recession upon us will in large part depend on how small companies and the workers they employ fare during the shutdowns. …

Follow Carolina Journal Online’s continuing coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic here.