2017 Small Business Survey Shows More Optimism

The 12 Federal Reserve Banks have released the 2017 Small Business Credit Survey: Report on Employer Firms. The annual survey polls over 8,000 small firms that have 1 to 499 full- or part-time employees. It assesses how the businesses performed, their financial challenges, the credit they sought and received, and more.

The report builds on the Reserve Banks' recently launched website FedSmallBusiness.org, which serves as a hub for small business research and analysis.

The 2017 report finds that firms' profitability, revenue growth, and employment growth improved over 2016. More firms received all the financing requested, and a large portion had sufficient financing and did not apply for credit. However, smaller firms, start-ups, and firms in the leisure and hospitality industry continued to struggle with financing challenges.

Here are some key findings about small businesses in the Southeast:

  • Alabama firms were more likely to apply to small banks for loans, lines of credits, or cash advances. Sixty-eight percent applied at small banks and 34 percent did so at large banks versus 47 percent and 48 percent, respectively, nationally. Applications to online lenders were less common; only 2 percent of small business applicants turned to these lenders for financing, compared to 24 percent nationally.
  • Large banks and online lenders play a larger role in Florida's small business financing landscape than they do nationally. Fifty-seven percent of Florida firms report applying to large banks for loans, lines of credit, or merchant cash advances, and 32 percent applied to online lenders. Nationally, 48 percent and 24 percent of firms did so, respectively.
  • Large banks play a relatively important role in Georgia's small business financing landscape. Fifty-five percent of Georgia firms applying for financing do so at a large bank, compared to 48 percent nationally.
  • A relatively small share of Tennessee firms apply to small banks or online lenders for loans, lines of credit, or cash advances. Thirty-six percent apply to small banks, and 11 percent to online lenders versus 47 percent and 24 percent, respectively, nationally.

Please visit FedSmallBusiness.org to read about the findings. Also, be sure to check out the data appendix and questionnaire. We will post more about the survey results in a future Partners Update article.