Few small-business owners are reporting trouble getting a loan, according to a monthly survey of entrepreneurs.
Polling more than 800 of its members in November, the National Federation of Independent Business found a net 4% said credit was harder to get. Though historically low, that figure is up from October when tougher credit conditions were reported by a net 1%, a 25-year low.
During the 1980s the net percentage of entreprenuers who said credit was harder to get ranged between 20% and 30%, according to said the trade group's chief economist, William Dunkelberg, an economics professor at Temple University, Philadelphia.
Although credit is widely available, 32% of respondents reported regular borrowing activity-the same as in October, which was off four points from September. The average was 34% last year and 35% in 1995.
"The economy is good, and businesses are generating enough cash flow that they don't need to borrow," Mr. Dunkelberg said.
But the decline in the percentage of entrepreneurs who borrow regularly doesn't mean bankers should expect a slump in loan demand, Mr. Dunkelberg said. In fact, the number of new businesses nationwide has steadily increased in the last three years, he said.
At midyear banks had $175 billion outstanding in 4.1 million small- business loans, a 7% increase from midyear 1996, according to an American Banker study.
According to the lobbying group's October survey, the average short-term rate members paid was 10%, down 40 basis points from September. The November borrowing rate was not available Friday.
Also in October, 5% of respondents reported higher rates, a drop of three points from September, while 2% reported paying lower rates, unchanged.