Updated data on Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of $150,000 or more is now available on Covid Stimulus Watch. The 661,000 loans on Covid Stimulus Watch now have precise dollar amounts instead of the range that was originally reported by the SBA. These updated figures come from data released under a December court order, which compelled the Small Business Administration (SBA) to release detailed loan information on all 4.5 million loans.
Throughout the life of the PPP, the SBA’s disclosure practices have been met with widespread criticism and have inhibited efforts to properly evaluate the program. Concerningly, key demographic data, such as a borrower’s race or gender, were left unanswered. Furthermore, basic information, such as company names and addresses, were blank for several hundred entries. While many of these issues are still present in the latest data release, numerous data entry errors have been revised.
This data release only covers lending through the end of the first PPP program – August 8, 2020. The PPP has since reopened on January 11 and the SBA has approved over 400,000 loans worth more than $35 billion. Although the SBA has continued to release lending summaries, it is unclear when loan-level data from the second round of the PPP will be released.
Data on loan forgiveness is also missing from the public discussion. The SBA has only released the number and total dollar amount of forgiven loans and has not indicated whether loan-level forgiveness data will be publicly available. As of January 21, over one million loans worth $100 billion had been forgiven. This information will likely be the most comprehensive and accurate source of job retention data, a key metric of the program’s success, as businesses must provide evidence showing the number of jobs supported by their PPP loan in order to receive forgiveness. Moreover, the second stimulus, which created a tax break for forgiven PPP expenses, heightens the public’s interest in the data and reinforces the need for public scrutiny.
The SBA announced it will soon reveal how it is “ensur[ing] fair and equitable access to its programs.” One can only hope that continued disclosure and improved recordkeeping are part of those efforts.