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Small businesses are indeed in need of more access to credit, according to a new survey with implications for the debate over Republicans’ plans to ease post-crisis banking rules.

A majority of small businesses owners believe credit is too hard to acquire, and want the government to act to get banks to lend to small businesses, according to a survey conducted by Thumbtack, an online survey that connects customers looking for services to professionals.

Of the business owners who sought credit, less than a quarter received all the funding they needed. The rest only got a portion of what they asked for, found the conditions attached to the loan too onerous, or didn’t even bother applying in the first place because they didn’t think they’d get a loan.

Small business access to credit, said Thumbtack economist Lucas Puente, is “clearly a problem that needs to be addressed.”

The question of whether credit is unavailable or too tight has become a major point of contention on Capitol Hill because Republicans have claimed that President Barack Obama’s 2010 financial reform law stifled lending, slowing economic growth.

In Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen’s testimony before Congress this month, lawmakers on both sides pressed her on credit availability. Democrats cited data from the National Federation of Independent Businesses showing that only a small share of businesses had trouble finding loans to make the case that regulation is not constraining lending. Republicans pointed out that the same data showed that many companies aren’t bothering to look for credit, and mentioned that they hear from their constituents all the time about credit problems.

Puente said the Thumbtack survey data didn’t allow for attributing the lack of credit availability to a specific factor, such as the 2010 Dodd-Frank law.

However, with responses from 6,000 small business operators, he said its findings are robust and indicative of what is happening across the country.


Businesses that use the online service are more likely to be small services themselves. Half are one-person operations, and the rest are likely to employ only two to five people. In other words, they are photographers, caterers or personal trainers — the kind of business that it might be harder for bankers to assess and determine its creditworthiness.

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