As of the end of last week, Nevada small businesses had received nearly 38,000 loans under the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, the fewest of seven states with similar-sized populations, according to an analysis of SBA PPP statistics.
The loans gave the state $4.02 billion in funds through May 23 under the pandemic emergency loan program. Nevada’s 37,712 approved loans were on the low end among the seven states with populations between 2.9 million and 3.5 million. By April 13, the state had received 4,209 SBA-approved loans totaling $1.25 billion.
The data help fill in the picture of federal aid to the state, which continues to languish near the bottom of the list of states of similar size — even as it has the highest unemployment rate in the country. In April, Nevada’s unemployment rate was 28.2 percent, the highest in the nation. Other states of similar population had lower unemployment — including Connecticut, which had the lowest jobless rate, at 7.9 percent.
The data also show that the average loan to each Nevada business was about $107,000 through late May, compared with about $232,000 through the middle of April, when The Nevada Independent last surveyed the program. That suggests that while the number of businesses receiving the loans is increasing, the loan size is declining — a fact that comes as more smaller, main street businesses have qualified for the program after the Nevada delegation lobbied the Trump administration to lift rules that had banned small-gambling operations - including mom-and-pop style grocery stores with slot machines - from participating.
The SBA responded to early criticism of the program by saying it was prioritizing loans to big businesses.
By one measure, the Silver State bettered its standing compared with all other states, though. Nevada ranked 36th in the number of loans approved through May 23, SBA data showed. That’s up from 47th on April 13.
The state, which has 3.08 million people, beat out Arkansas and Mississippi on the total amount of PPP aid received, but both states received a larger number of loans than Nevada. Arkansas, which has a population of 3.01 million, was awarded $3.29 billion in funds made up of 40,329 loans and Mississippi, with a population of 2.97 million, saw $3.16 billion in loan funds from 41,955 loans.
Of the seven states analyzed, Connecticut, which has 3.5 million people, had the highest loan total and most approved loans with $6.6 billion in loan aid from 55,515 loans. Utah, with a population of 3.2 million, had the second-highest total, $5.24 billion, but only the fourth-highest number of approved loans, 47,683.
Iowa ranked third in total loan funds with $5.03 billion and second with regard to approved loans with 54,380. Iowa has a population of 3.15 million.
Kansas, which has 2.91 million people, came in fourth, above Nevada, based on the total amount of loan funds, $4.93 billion, and had the third most loans approved with 48,945.
More than 4 million loans have been approved to businesses around the nation totaling more than $511 billion, the SBA said. The average loan size is $116,000.
The SBA data come as the House is expected to vote on legislation Thursday to ease restrictions on the PPP, including extending the eight-week window in which loans must be spent to qualify for loan forgiveness and allow a larger share of funds to be used for non-payroll expenses. The Senate, currently on its week-long Memorial Day recess, could also pass the House bill or its own similar PPP measure by unanimous consent during one of the short pro-forma sessions scheduled for this week unless a senator shows up to object.
Congress approved a second round of funding for the program earlier this month—authorization for $320 billion—on top of the initial $350 billion provided in the $2 trillion CARES Act signed into law in late March. The initial round of PPP funding was exhausted in about two weeks.
The program, launched April 3, was designed to help small businesses with fewer than 500 employees ride out a depressed economy hamstrung when governors around the country shuttered businesses to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Those measures in Nevada include closing nonessential businesses.
Part of the appeal of the program is that loans used to pay certain expenses, such as keeping workers in place or to pay mortgage interest, rent and utilities, do not have to be repaid.
Disclosure: The Nevada Independent has received a PPP loan.