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Small Business Lending Survey

Last Updated: May 10, 2022

FDIC's Small Business Lending Survey

About the Survey

The Small Business Lending Survey (SBLS) is a nationally representative survey that asks banks about their small business lending practices and volumes. The survey is sponsored by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and administered by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The goal of the survey is to better understand, and share with the public, banks' contributions to this vital part of the U.S. economy. Despite the importance of small businesses to the U.S. economy and the importance of bank lending to small businesses, there is little high quality data on this activity. The SBLS aims to fill gaps in our understanding. The SBLS provides a more comprehensive view of small business lending by banks than more frequently occurring surveys that are not nationally representative or more narrowly defined surveys with standard questions. In the SBLS, questions differ from collection-to-collection to evolve with the industry and capture information on emerging topics. The last collection occurred in 2016 and the current collection will launch in June of 2022 (SBLS 2022).

What is in the survey?

SBLS 2022 is composed of four sections of questions about small business lending on these specific topics:

  • I. Loan Processes, Underwriting, and FinTech Usage
  • II. Markets and Competition
  • III. Coronavirus Pandemic, SBA Lending, and Selling of Loans
  • IV. Measurement of Business Lending

A bank's typical small business borrower likely differs from another bank's small business borrower. Therefore, in the first three qualitative sections of the survey, we ask that respondents use their own formal or informal definitions for what it considers a “small business.”

In the last and quantitative section, we measure bank small business lending that may not be captured when relying on definitions used for regulatory reporting. This section collects bank business lending by multiple firm and loan sizes in order to produce a better overall estimate of bank small business lending.

Are answers confidential and anonymous?

All bank responses are confidential and anonymous; no respondent identities or individual bank responses are ever disclosed. Results will only be reported in aggregate form. We note also that in order to mitigate the ability to triangulate the identity bank respondents, a certain minimum number of respondents per bank strata are required in order to report results in aggregate for that strata. Only a small group of FDIC researchers with Census Special Sworn Status are allowed to analyze the data collected. The U.S. Census will protect the collected data from disclosure in accordance with applicable law (including Titles 13 and 26 ).

Will this information be in a report?

Banks' answers will be used to make inferences about small business lending for the entire U.S. banking industry. Main findings from the collected survey data will be published in an FDIC report scheduled for publication in 2024. Other reports with more detailed analysis of specific topics may also be produced.

For examples of how the collected data are used, please see our 2018 FDIC Report of Main Findings ( https://www.fdic.gov/resources/publications/small-business-lending-survey/2018-survey/index.html ) and a 2020 FDIC Staff Study ( https://www.fdic.gov/analysis/cfr/staff-studies/2020-04.pdf ), both of which analyzed data from the 2016 collection. The latter study documented that, as a share of total commercial and industrial (C&I) loan dollars made by banks with $1 billion to $10 billion in assets, total dollar lending that can be considered small business lending is understated by 23 percent if we rely on the Call Report line item of C&I originations of less than $1 million at the time of origination.

Questions or Concerns?

You are welcome to contact the SBLS Team at sbls@fdic.gov