PayNet: U.S. Small Business Lending Builds Momentum

Small business lending expanded in November, according to the latest U.S. Small Business Credit Monthly Report from PayNet, a provider of small business credit data and analysis .

The Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index (SBLI) rose 4.1%, from 133.2 (revised) in October to 138.7 in November – and now it’s more than 7% above year-ago levels. The SBLI three-month moving average also increased, and is nearly 6% above its November 2016 level.

From an industry perspective, 11 of 18 sectors have seen lending increase over the last 12 months, including seven that grew by more than 4%. These fast-growing industries include Construction (+5.3% recent), which has experienced positive growth for 11 consecutive months.

Meanwhile, only two sectors experienced significant declines: Healthcare (-8.8%); and Finance and Insurance (-3.6%)

“After lagging for most of the year, small business investment is finally starting to pick up,” said PayNet President William Phelan. “Financial health remains solid, and small businesses are well-positioned to expand through responsible borrowing.”

The Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Delinquency Index (SBDI) 31 – 90 days past due held steady at 1.4% from October to November.

Though the SBDI ticked up three basis points over the past year, this modest increase is consistent with the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise the federal funds rate three times in the 12 months leading up to November. Compared to October, delinquencies fell nine basis points in the Transportation sector and were essentially unchanged in other industries, signaling continued strength in small businesses’ financial health.

From a regional perspective, states affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma (e.g., Florida, Georgia, Texas) should be closely monitored in the months ahead, as these areas are already starting to see increased delinquencies — which may eventually translate to higher default rates.

The PayNet Small Business Default Index (SBDFI) fell two basis points to 1.8% in November. Only five of the 18 industrial sectors saw defaults rise from October, although 10 sectors experienced higher defaults over the last 12 months, including Information (+73bp Y/Y), Accommodation and Food (+36bp Y/Y)and Finance and Insurance (+18bp Y/Y). However, defaults fell substantially for Mining (-172bp Y/Y) and Professional Services (-36bp Y/Y) over the same period, and the overall default rate is essentially unchanged from a year ago. “The economy appears to be firing on all cylinders, and the stock market surge shows that large public companies have been taking advantage of the pro-business environment,” added Phelan. “Now, small businesses are stepping in to get a piece of the pie.”

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Terry Mulreany
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