Allocation and Employment Effect of the Paycheck Protection Program

Abstract: The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was a large and unprecedented small-business support program enacted as a response to the COVID-19 crisis in the United States. The PPP administered almost $800 billion in loans and grants to small businesses through the banking system. However, there is still limited consensus on its overall effect on employment. This paper explores why it is challenging to estimate the effect of the PPP. To do so, we first focus on the timing of the allocation of PPP funds across regions and firms. Counties less affected by COVID-19 and with a larger presence of community banks, as well as larger firms, received loans earlier in the program. This differential timing observed in the data suggests that the current estimates of the effect of the PPP are not representative of the overall effect of the program. We qualitatively reconcile some of the conflicting results in the empirical literature and point to key questions surrounding the program.

Keywords: Paycheck Protection Program; COVID-19; small business lending; financial frictions;

JEL Classification: E24; G28; H81; J21;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

Part of Series: Current Policy Perspectives

Publication Date: 2021-12-21