The October approval percentage for big banks (assets of $10 billion+) rose two-tenths of a percent from September's figure of 26.7% to 26.8%, according to Biz2Credit's monthly report, which examines more than 1,000 credit applications made by small businesses via the company's online lending platform.
Optimism among entrepreneurs is high, according to the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, which has had a two-year upward trend. According to the NFIB, 2018 has produced 45-year record high measures of job openings, actual job creation, compensation increases, profit growth, and inventory investment. Further, capital spending has risen significantly in the past few month and small business owners have bulked up their inventories.
Hiring is up, and much of that is due to small business growth. Nonfarm employment rose by 250,000 in October, and the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.7 percent, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics' November 2 Jobs Report. Sectors that saw the largest job growth were health care, manufacturing, construction, and transportation and warehousing.
"While there were some fluctuations in the stock market during October, the economy is still very strong," said Biz2Credit CEO Rohit Arora, who oversees the Index. "There is still much optimism among small business owners, and they are anticipating a strong holiday season. All these factors combine for a robust small business lending market right now"
Business loan approval rates rose at regional and community banks. Small banks actually granted more than half of the funding requests they received in October, 50.1% up two-tenths from September. It was the first month in which small banks approved more loans than they rejected since October 2014.
"In October 2018, the first month of SBA's 2019 Fiscal Year, the agency guaranteed almost $2.5 billion in small business loans nationwide. In the New York District, that number was $84.3 million, or 16 percent more than last October," said Beth Goldberg, Director of the New York District SBA Office which serves all of New York City, Long Island and the Lower Hudson Valley.
"Small banks are granting SBA loans at a great pace. By providing government guarantees against default and mitigating lender risk, the agency is providing incentives for banks to lend and opportunities for small business owners to secure capital," Arora explained.
institutional lenders jumped from 64.5% to 64.8% in October.
"The rising tide floats all the boats. Institutional lenders, like the banks, are funding deals at a high rate," Arora said.
Loan approval rates among alternative lenders increased from 56.6% in September to 56.8% in October.
"Alternative lenders provide quick funding for companies that might not qualify for traditional bank loans," Arora explained. "While their interest rates are high, the capital they provide is often a lifeline for a cash-strapped company. There will always be a marketplace for this type of lending."
Credit unions approved 40.3% of loan applications in October, the same percentage as in September, according to the Biz2Credit Index.
"Thus far, 2018 has been one of the best ever for small business lending. As long as the economy remains strong and interest rates stay reasonable, I expect small business lending to be robust as we approach 2019," Arora said.