Joint Small Business Credit Survey, 2014

Small businesses are important to the U.S. economy and the well-being of local communities. They employ half of the nation’s private sector workers and in recent decades have created two-thirds of net new jobs. Yet, unlike large firms, which rebounded relatively quickly from the Great Recession, the pace of recovery for small firms has been slower and more uneven.

An important part of measuring the small business recovery is tracking firms’ demand for and ability to access capital. The Joint Small Business Credit Survey, a collaboration among the Federal Reserve Banks of New York, Atlanta, Cleveland and Philadelphia, does that. Responses to this joint survey provide insight into the dynamics behind aggregate lending trends and shed light on noteworthy segments of the small business credit market, including small dollar borrowers.

Here are key findings from the survey:

Large differences in credit demand exist between small and larger revenue firms.

Credit Application Rate

Firm Size (annual revenues)Percent of Firms
(less than $250K)

Small businesses applying for credit are likely to be experienced in acquiring financing and operating at a profit.

Applicant Characteristics

 Percent of ApplicantsPercent of All Firms
Operated at a profit 49% 60%
Has debt 60% 42%

Among applicants, there is a strong demand for small loans of $100,000 or less, with many firms borrowing to expand.

A tough credit market exists for the smallest firms and startups, with a majority unable to secure any credit.

Credit Application Outcomes

 All FirmsMicrobusiness
Received all financing applied for 33% 25% 36% 60% 70%
Received most (>=50%) 9% 11% 4% 6% 10%
Received some (<50%) 12% 11% 10% 12% 0%
Received none 44% 52% 50% 14% 20%
Table Notes
Values may not sum to 100% because of rounding.

*7% of mid-size applicants were unsure.

Large banks are the dominant credit sources, but the use of online lenders is common across firm segments.

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Updated February 17, 2015
About the Survey

Established in 2010 by the New York Fed, the Small Business Credit Survey (SBCS) is a survey of firms reporting information about business performance, financing needs and choices, and borrowing experiences. The SBCS captures the perspectives of businesses with fewer than 500 employees and results are weighted to reflect the full population of small businesses in the ten states of coverage: Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

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Updated February 17, 2015
Download Data Results by state, industry size
Updated February 17, 2015
Survey Questionnaire
Press Release