The Paycheck Protection Program distributed $521 billion in loans to almost 4.9 million small businesses as of June 30. These loans will be forgiven if businesses maintain jobs or rehire laid-off workers and if most of the money goes to payroll. Overseen by the Small Business Administration, it’s the centerpiece of the government’s economic response to the pandemic.
Millions of businesses applied for loans when the program began in April. But demand evaporated in recent weeks, and almost $132 billion remains unspent. The program was set to expire June 30, but both chambers of Congress voted last week to extend it to Aug. 8.
The program hasn’t worked for every struggling small business. Some opted not to apply because they don’t expect to be able to rehire workers. Others had trouble applying or were confused by the program’s shifting rules.
Monday’s disclosure offers the first detailed glimpse into which neighborhoods and industries were most able to take advantage of the program. It’s the first time the SBA has released information on loan activity within geographic areas smaller than states. The SBA didn’t disclose the names or addresses of businesses that got less than $150,000.
Bloomberg News tracked the program’s reach in each congressional district by looking at underlying business activity: the number of loans compared with the number of small businesses with employees, and the number of jobs supported by loans compared with the number of small-business employees. Because many loans went to self-employed people, it’s possible for either of these metrics to exceed 100%. The SBA didn’t release enough information to tally precisely how much money each area got.
The first round of lending under the program, which took place in early April, didn’t appear to target areas harder hit by the pandemic’s economic effects, a group of researchers at University of Chicago and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found. If anything, they wrote, aid seemed to flow best to areas less affected. Researchers will pore overthe new disclosures to see if that trend held over the following months.