NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Despite emergency stimulus measures, small business lending continues to fall. In the just-ended quarter, the Small Business Administration's flagship program backed 30% fewer loans than it did a year ago, and 55% fewer loans than it did in 2007, before the recession set in.
The numbers bear out the grim reports from business owners who say that credit is dangerously scarce for small firms. The SBA's 7(a) program approved 11,580 loans in the quarter ended June 30, valued at $2.5 billion. That's down from 16,490 loans, worth $3.4 billion, in the same quarter last year.
For the full year to date, the situation is even darker. In the first nine months of its 2009 fiscal year, the SBA has approved roughly half as many loans as it did last year.
With sales slow, many business owners are looking for financing to help them weather the recession, but banks have clamped down on making the risky loans. Additional incentives from the SBA, authorized as part of February's Recovery Act, have helped spur some increased lending but haven't sparked a complete rebound. Want the whole story?