Two years after the SBA released a rare report that highlighted the growing influence of credit unions within the small business sector, the agency has offered more proof that the cooperatives are continuing to hold their own.
That’s according to the SBA Office of Advocacy report, “Small Business Lending in the United States, 2012.”
“Previous evidence suggesting that small traditional lenders represent the majority of lending institutions continues to hold true,” the report read. “In addition, non-depository lenders such as credit unions, finance companies and others have become increasingly important as suppliers of credit to small firms.”
Looking at 2012’s trends, the agency said although the banking industry has undergone major consolidation, the market for small business loans tends to be local in nature.
“The literature shows that the impact of consolidation activity on the availability of credit to small firms is minimal and is generally offset by an increase in small business lending by other banks,” the SBA said.
In 2012, total small business borrowing from depository lenders remained subdued for both commercial real estate and commercial and industrial loans under $1 million, while large business borrowing increased, according to the report.
The value of these small business loans outstanding declined by 3.1% in 2012, compared with 7.0% the previous year, while large business loans in excess of $1 million increased by 12% in 2012, compared with 5.8% in 2011.
Micro business loans, which are the smallest business loans of less than $100,000 and considered a sweet lending spot for some credit unions, amounted to $138.2 billion in 2012, compared with $139.5 billion in 2011, a decrease of roughly 1%.
Meanwhile, lenders with total assets between $1 billion and $10 billion and those with assets between $100 million and $500 million combined, accounted for 39.3% of all small business loans, and for more than half or 53.3% of the total decline in small business loans, according to the SBA.
The largest lenders with $50 billion or more in assets were active in the C&I micro business lending market, where they represent 68.7% of small business loans, the data showed.
“Small businesses tend to rely on traditional depository institutions for their credit needs. Since the end of the recession in mid-2009, overall lending conditions have improved for businesses but improvement has been slower for small firms,” the SBA said.
This is not the first time the agency has recognized just how much of an impact credit unions have had on small businesses. Indeed, between 1986 and 2010, credit unions may have provided extra business loans in response to a reduction in activity from banks.
A 2011 report found that while credit unions did partly offset changes in business lending by banks, the data showed that these effects had not been consistent over time for the period tracked.