Key takeaways

  • 7(a) and 504 loans remain a popular funding tool for businesses across industry, revenue and size categories
  • The SBA weekly lending report provides valuable information on loan funding based on specific demographic data
  • The majority of 7(a) loans for working capital are under $50,000, while the majority of 504 loans are between $500,000 and $2 million.

Small Business Administration (SBA) small business loans are designed to cover the costs of running your business. And while only 23 percent of businesses applied for an SBA loan, according to findings from the 2022 Small Business Credit Survey, 64 percent of applicants were at least partially approved.

The SBA weekly lending report covers the two primary programs offered by the SBA: 7(a) loans and 504 loans. This report provides insight into the industries that are being funded as well as demographic breakdowns based on state, race, gender and veteran status. As a business owner, it can also guide you to request a reasonable amount — the report provides average loan amounts for business age and size.

SBA loans function like many other business loans or lines of credit, but the lower overall cost of SBA loans makes them ideal for business owners. By knowing the numbers, you can tailor your application to potentially increase your chances of being approved.

Bankrate insight

For the 2023 fiscal year:

  • The SBA has approved 57,362 7(a) loans vs. 5,924 504 loans
  • The average loan size is $479,685 for the SBA 7(a) loan vs. $1,083,622 for the 504 loan
  • Most 7(a) loans (27 percent) are for $50,000 or less
  • Most 504 loans (48.1 percent) are between $500,000 and $2 million
  • 83.1 percent of SBA 7(a) loans and 82.5 percent of 504 loans are approved for urban areas
  • Most SBA 7(a) loans (53.1 percent) and 504 loans (79.6 percent) go to businesses more than two years old

What is the SBA weekly lending report?

The SBA releases data every week about its 7(a) and 504 loan programs. Previously, this was done through a weekly lending report. The report highlighted funding based on factors like race, gender, veteran status and industry. It also broke down its numbers based on the total amount funded for each program and how many applicants had been approved.

At the beginning of 2023, the SBA switched to the SBA 7(a) and 504 summary report, an interactive dashboard that provides much of the same financial information. It is no longer summarized in a weekly report, but you can find the same data updated regularly and broken down by fiscal year.

How does the SBA weekly lending report work?

The SBA weekly lending report gathers information from participating lenders and applicants. Because it is provided voluntarily, the information may not be completely accurate. But the lending report can be used as a general gauge to see big-picture trends in the 7(a) and 504 loan programs.

SBA loan statistics

Around 81 percent of firms cited the rising cost of goods, services and wages as a primary cause for financial problems, according to findings from the 2022 Small Business Credit Survey. Uneven cash flow and operating expenses were also key challenges for many firms. These factors led many businesses to apply for funding from a bank or other lender.

As the prime rate and other federal rates continue to rise, so does the cost of obtaining financing for your business. SBA loans, which are pegged to the prime rate, have also been increasing in cost. But they are still competitively priced when compared to other loan options. The average interest rate for term loans and lines of credit ranges from 6 percent to 60 percent. On the other hand, SBA loan rates have a much smaller range of just 10.5 percent to 16.25 percent, depending on loan size.

For the 2023 fiscal year — which ended September 30, 2023, the SBA approved over $33 billion between the 7(a) and 504 loan programs. So far, for the 2024 fiscal year, the SBA has approved over $6 million in 504 loans and $3 billion in 7(a) loans.

The data available through the weekly lending report can help support your application. You can sort based on lender approvals or by loan amount. By utilizing these numbers, you may be able to improve your chances by requesting a reasonable SBA loan through a top lender.

Bankrate insight

If your SBA loan is denied, ask the lender why. The answer can help you decide if you should apply again, find a different SBA loan or lender, or look for a new type of business loan with more relaxed eligibility requirements.

SBA 7(a) vs. SBA 504 loans

SBA 7(a) loans are designed for working capital and regular business expenses. They are the most common option for business owners, with over 57,000 approved applications in 2023. This is approaching pre-pandemic numbers; in 2019, there were almost 52,000 approved applications for 7(a) loans with an average loan size of $446,487.

SBA 504 loans are meant for equipment financing and commercial real estate. While less common — and more difficult to qualify for — they are funded through Certified Development Companies (CDCs), community-based organizations that promote local economic development.

Total approvals Approval amount Average loan size
SBA 7(a) 57,362 $27,515,666,000 $479,685
SBA 504 5,924 $6,419,378,000 $1,083,622

Data accurate for the 2023 fiscal year, ending September 30, 2023.

Bankrate insight
Check out our guide for more information on SBA 7(a) vs. SBA 504 loans.

Top SBA 7(a) loan amounts

Although there were only around 48,000 approved applications in 2022, the 2023 numbers for 7(a) loans surpass loan approvals from last year. Over 50 percent of loans are for less than $150,000 in 2023, while around 46.6 percent of loans were approved for the same amount in 2022. And similar to 2022, about a quarter of 7(a) loans have been for $350,000 to $2 million.

With a maximum loan amount of $5 million, loans under $500,000 may be more representative of the Express Loan program, a subset of the 7(a) program.

Express loans have quicker application turnaround times than standard 7(a) loans. And 55 percent of businesses cited speed as a primary concern when looking for funding, which would make Express Loans the ideal option for business owners that need quick funding but want to work with an SBA-approved lender.

Loan amount Total approvals Approval amount
Less than $50,000 15,489 $468,756,700
$50,000 to $150,000 13,256 $1,463,422,400
$150,000 to $250,000 5,774 $1,224,796,900
$250,000 to $350,000 5,395 $1,716,869,100
$350,000 to $500,000 4,427 $1,975,123,400
$500,000 to $2 million 9,783 $9,947,272,300
Over $2 million 3,238 $10,719,425,200

Data accurate for the 2023 fiscal year, ending September 30, 2023.

Bankrate insight

In 2023, California, Texas and Florida are the top states to receive SBA 7(a) approvals and funding. North Dakota, Vermont and Hawaii have received the least amount of SBA funding. Check out our guide on the best and worst states for SBA 7(a) loans to learn more.

Top SBA 504 loan amounts

The majority of 504 loans (48.1 percent) were for amounts between $500,000 and $2 million. This is similar to 2022, where loans in this size category made up over 49 percent of approved applications. And despite a maximum loan of $5.5 million, the average 504 loan sits at around $1.08 million for 2023 — up from $995,000 in 2022.

Loans greater than $2 million make up the second largest category of 504 loans, followed closely by loans in the $350,000 to $500,000 range. Loans smaller than $50,000, on the other hand, have consistently seen less than 10 approvals since 2019, with the maximum number of annual approvals sitting at 15 in 2021.

Loan amount Total approvals Approval amount
Less than $50,000 7 $296,000
$50,000 to $150,000 229 $26,383,000
$150,000 to $250,000 557 $113,137,000
$250,000 to $350,000 631 $189,565,000
$350,000 to $500,000 749 $315,332,000
$500,000 to $2 million 2,847 $2,877,599,000
Over $2 million 904 $2,897,066,000

Data accurate for the 2023 fiscal year, ending September 30, 2023.

Top SBA 7(a) loan approvals by industry

According to findings from the 2022 Small Business Credit Survey, approval rates declined for most categories, including industry. Leisure and hospitality were hit hardest, with a decline from 64 percent approval in 2019 to just 36 percent approval in 2022.

Manufacturing saw a much smaller decrease from 67 percent approval in 2019 to 64 percent approval in 2022. And while it makes up only 6 percent of 7(a) funding in 2023, businesses in manufacturing have received 8.1 percent of SBA loan dollars, according to the SBA weekly lending report.

Top funded industries in 2023 include accommodation and food services (13.1 percent), construction (13.4 percent) and retail trade (12.1 percent).

Industry Total approvals Approval amount
Construction 7,665 $2,578,406,300
Accommodation and food services 7,525 $4,828,175,200
Retail trade 6,934 $3,882,291,800
Other services (except public administration) 5,366 $2,253,008,500
Professional, scientific and technical services 5,266 $2,102,100,700
Health care and social assistance 5,068 $2,810,526,100
Transportation and warehousing 3,765 $1,031,634,100

Data accurate for the 2023 fiscal year, ending September 30, 2023.

Top SBA 504 loan approvals by industry

The top-funded industries for 504 loans are similar to their 7(a) counterparts. Accommodation and food services saw the highest percent of approvals at 16.5 percent and received the largest share of funding — 20 percent of the $6.4 billion in 504 loans went to businesses in accommodation and food services.

And although manufacturing only made up 10.1 percent of approvals, it had the second-highest share of funding at 13.1 percent. Other top industries included health care and social assistance, retail trade and “other services,” although what “other services” include is not explicit.

These numbers are similar to 504 funding from 2022, with accommodation and food services being the most approved and top-funded industry (14.2 percent) and health care and social assistance (13.4 percent) following close behind.

Industry Total approvals Approval amount
Accommodation and food services 980 $1,285,628,000
Health care and social assistance 817 $774,296,000
Other services (except public administration) 626 $488,270,000
Retail trade 625 $645,489,000
Manufacturing 600 $840,304,000
Construction 483 $377,003,000

Data accurate for the 2023 fiscal year, ending September 30, 2023.

Bottom line

The weekly lending report provides insight into how SBA loans are funded. Its data can help guide your business to request loan amounts it is more likely to be approved for. So, while there is a lot of information to take in, it is worth familiarizing yourself with.

But if your business is not in a frequently funded industry or you want to explore other options, you can compare top business loans to find more ways to finance your business.

Frequently asked questions

  • In addition to meeting basic eligibility criteria like being a for-profit business based in the U.S., most SBA lenders are more likely to approve a loan application for businesses that:<br /><br />
    • have been in business for at least two years
    • have a strong steady revenue
    • have owners with good-to-excellent personal finances
    Some SBA loans, like the SBA microloans and SBA Community Advantage loans, are designed to help business owners in underserved communities, including minorities, veterans and women. These loans have more relaxed eligibility requirements.
  • It depends on the type of SBA loan you are applying for. Most SBA loans require intensive applications in addition to businesses meeting strict eligibility criteria. Because of this, it can be hard to qualify for an SBA loan — but it is generally on par with bank loans that are not backed by the SBA. Some SBA loans can be easier to qualify for, especially ones found with community development financial institutions and minority depository institutions.
  • An SBA Express Loan may be easier for businesses, especially smaller businesses, to qualify for. The amount you are eligible to borrow is limited, so you may be able to qualify with lower annual revenue if you choose a smaller loan amount.
  • There are certain businesses and industries that are not eligible for SBA loans, like businesses involved in gambling or speculative investments. Your business will also be disqualified from an SBA loan if it is not for profit or is not based in the United States or its territories. Lenders have their own requirements that you will also need to meet in order to qualify for an SBA loan.