WASHINGTON — The smattering of data showing an upsurge in lending activity now includes the statistical reporting required under the Community Reinvestment Act.
A CRA-mandated report released Tuesday said small loans to nonfarm businesses grew last year for the first time since 2007, although new small loans to farms continued to decline.
The annual data showed the amount of small-business loans originated or purchased in 2011 increased 21% from the previous year to nearly 5.2 million for the industry, the first such jump in four years. The outstanding balances of those loans increased about 10% to $197 billion. But the amount of small loans to farms fell about 7% in the same period to about 137,000, with outstanding balances of $11.8 billion virtually the same as the previous year.
"Some reporting institutions that were asked about their lending activity stated that small-business lending opportunities had increased and in some cases reporting institutions had restarted small-business credit card programs," said the report, which was released jointly by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Federal Reserve Board and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
The data provides not only another snapshot of overall lending conditions but also make comparisons between institutions of different sizes and geographic regions, thanks to more detailed reporting requirements for most institutions with more than $1 billion of assets. (The asset cutoff for reporting, which is adjusted annually for inflation, is currently $1.122 billion.)
The report said those submitting additional data, which totaled 859 institutions, account for the vast majority of small-business lending for the industry overall. The number of outstanding small-business loans held by the reporting banks represented about 85% of the industry's total. The amount of loans originated or purchased by those reporting banks was 99% of the industry's overall volume, while the dollar amount was 94%.
Nearly 93% of small-business loans — which are defined as being below $1 million — originated in 2011 were for less than $100,000, the report said. About 75% of the small farm loans — defined as being below $500,000 — originated were for less than $100,000.
The report also provided data on community development lending. Of the 859 reporting institutions, 655 made community development loans, which was an increase of about 1% from 2010.
"As in previous years, in 2011 lenders with assets that met or exceeded the mandatory reporting threshold … extended the vast majority of reported community development loans," the report said.