Confidence in the U.S. economy is helping small business lending. We are seeing small companies seeking loans to buy commercial real estate and upgrade equipment. A lot of businesses have good cash flow right now -- particularly food & beverage and hospitality companies. Loan approval rates at big banks ($10 billion+ in assets) continue to improve, according to the most recent Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index June 2016, the monthly analysis of more than 1,000 small business loan applications on Biz2Credit.com.
The rate at which loan requests are being granted now stands at 23.3%. One would have to look back before the so-called Great Recession to find higher approval rates for small business loans at major banks, which are traditionally conservative in their loan-making. Overall, the U.S. economy has shown several positive signs for small business owners this summer. Here are three:
Near Full Employment
Unemployment is low, and the Job Report for June was unexpectedly strong. The unemployment rate has been at or near 5% for most of 2016.
"It is still a candidate-driven job market. Employers are struggling at times to attract qualified candidates to fill job openings. For years, the job market was fueled by entry level jobs. Now, companies are looking for more experienced workers," says Steven Lindner, PhD, executive partner of The Workplace Group.
Oil prices remain low
Low fuel prices helps to lessen the cost of goods sold , which obviously helps small businesses. Consumers feel like they have money in their pockets when it doesn't cost a lot to fill up their gas tanks. They become more willing to take vacations and weekend road trips, spend a day at the beach and eat in restaurants. When people are spending money, small businesses thrive. Restaurants, hotels and other hospitality businesses are booming at the moment all across the country.
The dollar is strong
The dollar has long been a safe haven in troubled times. Here in the U.S., we have not seen much financial fallout from Britain's leaving the European Union. Markets have rebounded from what many economists predicted would be a seismic shock following the "Brexit."
Institutional lenders, looking for growth, are increasingly becoming a force in small business credit. With uncertainty in Europe, they are putting money in the U.S. small business lending marketplace in search of higher yields. I have long maintained that capital is the lifeblood of small companies. Right now, that flow is good.
The slow, but steady recovery of the U.S. economy helps encourage entrepreneurs and allows lenders to take more risks. If you are a small business owners with good credit ratings, now could be the best time ever to expand and grow.