Lending Discrimination within PPP

Since March 2020, businesses in the U.S. have been struggling to continue operations in the face of a global pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a recession because of the widespread closures of non-essential businesses enacted to reduce the spread of the virus. Even as things begin to reopen, people are less likely to go out due to possible health risks. In response, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act which created the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The PPP is a lending program that provides money, in a potential grant format, to small businesses to help them weather the economic effects of the pandemic. The majority of the loan needs to be allocated for employee salaries and then the remainder can be used for other business expenses like rent and loan payments. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the disparities in small business lending we have detected prior to the COVID-19 pandemic continued with implementation of the PPP program.

Impact of PPP on Small Businesses

To determine the initial effectiveness of government relief efforts, Gusto analyzed data from nearly 27,000 of our small business customers who reported receiving PPP loans and compared it to platform data from our 100,000-plus small business customers nationwide[1]. The report below shows that PPP aid has helped to provide stabilization from the initial free fall in March ‘20, with strong increases in hiring and rehiring beginning in the second half of April ‘20.

A New Rating System for CRA

NCRC developed a new ratings system for quantitative measures on banks’ community development financing under CRA. Our suggested ratings could increase community development lending and investment between $15 billion to $28 billion annually.

Opportunity Zones for Equitable Development

Opportunity Zones (OZs) are gaining momentum, and now that the rules regulating them are clearer, investors, local officials, developers, and businesses have been engaging with the incentive. In the two years since the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 created the incentive and Treasury-designated Zones, hundreds of Qualified Opportunity Funds (QOFs) have been created, and OZ investment was beginning to flow until the COVID-19 crisis began. But has this capital been reaching projects that benefit low- and moderate-income households and communities? Although the program is still maturing,  and the COVID-19 crisis now poses new challenges whose resolution is unknown, this report offers an early, qualitative assessment of how well OZs have channeled capital into projects aligned with equitable development goals.

Small Business Employment Plummets

Since a declaration of emergency for COVID-19 was issued on March 13, 2020, total private employment dropped by over 15 percent. Small businesses employers bore the brunt of the job loss, with a decline of more than 17 percent.

California 2020 Small Business Profile

In the fourth quarter of 2019, California grew at an annual rate of 2.2%, which was faster than the overall US growth rate of 2.1%. California’s 2019 overall growth rate of 2.6% was down from the 2018 rate of 4.3%. (Source: BEA)

In April 2020, the unemployment rate was 15.5%, up from 4.2% in April 2019. This was above the April 2020 national unemployment rate of 14.7%. (Source: CPS)

Bank Lending and the Financial Crisis

This report provides an analysis of how lending changed overall and in rural vs. urban areas before, during, and after the financial crisis of 2008-2010. The analysis shows that rural firms have poorer access to bank credit than their urban counterparts in terms of both the amount and number of loans and that this situation has deteriorated, rather than improved during the post-crisis years of 2011-2016.

Small Business Facts: COVID-19 Disruptions

When economic conditions are changing rapidly, data collected in the course of administering government programs can provide valuable information about recent developments. Timely data about economic conditions during the coronavirus pandemic have been provided by initial unemployment insurance claims and applications related to new businesses. These administrative data reveal severe economic disruptions in recent weeks.

COVID-19 California Small Business Poll

The poll, conducted by Chesapeake Beach Consulting for Small Business Majority, surveyed California small business owners between April 7 and 10, 2020. The survey sheds light on a shocking rate of business closures, as well as small business owners’ views on proposals that can help ensure they are able to reopen and recover once the crisis is over. 

2020 Report on Employer Firms

The results of the survey raise several important considerations in the current environment: most firms are ill-prepared for a sustained period of revenue loss; firms’ reliance on personal funds could mean severe repercussions for those individuals and households in the event of failure; and many small businesses do not rely on traditional banks for credit, and, therefore, any program designed to support them should take that into consideration.