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Analysis of PPP Data Finds That Most Loans Benefited Larger Companies

  • News outlets examine recently released Paycheck Protection Program data and find that more than half of the $522 billion in awarded funding went to just 5 percent of recipients
  • About 600 companies received the maximum loan of $10 million
  • Analysis also highlights some problems with the process, such as incomplete applications receiving loan

The bulk of funding distributed under the Paycheck Protection Program went to larger companies and loans, according to an analysis of recently released PPP data. The analysis shows that just 28 percent of available funds were distributed in amounts under $150,000, going against previous assertions by the Treasury and Small Business Administration that small businesses were the primary beneficiaries of the program and received 87 percent of the funds.

While more than 5 million borrowers received PPP funds, the Washington Post determined that more than half of the $522 billion distributed went to just 5 percent of recipients. Approximately 600 companies received the maximum loan amount of $10 million. Larger companies, including several national chains, accounted for many of these borrowers, though law firms, churches, and professional staffing companies also received $10 million loans.

Loan data was previously shrouded. The SBA disclosed the names of companies borrowing more than $150,000, but only gave a monetary range for their loan rather than a specific amount; for smaller loans, the amount was disclosed but not the borrower.

The Post and 11 other news agencies sued for the release of more detailed PPP data, along with information on funds distributed through the SBA’s Economic Disaster Recovery Loan program, under the Freedom of Information Act. While the SBA and some small business advocacy groups argued that the release would violate borrowers’ privacy, a judge ordered the data to be released. The original deadline for the release of the information was Nov. 19, but it was later extended to Dec. 1.

While the program has been credited with helping companies maintain payroll for millions of employees, the Post found that more than 875,000 borrowers showed that they did not support any jobs with the funding or did not provide any information on this factor. Companies were permitted to use PPP funds for expenses such as rent and utilities, but must demonstrate that at least 60 percent went toward payroll to qualify for full forgiveness.

An NBC News analysis of the data found that more than 100 companies received loans after submitting insufficient information. While food, hotel, and hospitality businesses were exempted from the $10 million cap, more than 300 companies in other industries appeared to receive more than this limit by submitting applications through subsidiaries.

The analyses also determined that members of Congress and their families were able to receive PPP funds without a conflict of interest review due to an exemption granted by the SBA. The NBC analysis found that 25 loans worth more than $3.65 million were approved for companies owned by President Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s family, with 15 loans supporting one job, zero jobs, or lacking information on this component.

The PPP was one of the most popular elements of the CARES Act, a $2.2 trillion bipartisan bill passed during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic to offer fiscal support to American businesses and households. Although Congress has struggled to come to a consensus on a new round of economic stimulus, proposals routinely advocate for a revival of PPP funding to help small businesses through an uncertain winter.

However, the PPP came under criticism in its first round of funding as the available cash was quickly snapped up by large companies and banks. Borrowers have also been frustrated by frequently shifting rules on loan forgiveness, and there have been concerns that the program has been susceptible to fraud.

A government accountability group,, has created a searchable database of PPP loan recipients at

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