What have you always wondered about the economy? Tell Us
COVID-19

Lenders start processing the second round of PPP loans

Justin Ho Jan 25, 2021
Heard on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Lenders start processing the second round of PPP loans

Justin Ho Jan 25, 2021
Heard on:
Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Lenders started processing applications for the new Paycheck Protection Program this month, so businesses are applying for the forgivable loans.

We checked in with two smaller banks to see how the process has been going.

When the program kicked off last year, banks encountered glitches trying to process applications. Peter Alden at Bay State Savings Bank in Massachusetts said this time it’s been a lot smoother.

“I mean, we gained a lot of knowledge in the first round,” he said.

Banks have a much better sense of what to expect this time, Alden said. So do second-time borrowers.

“There’s not quite so many questions about what are the documents I have to give you and all of that,” Alden said.

At Optus Bank in South Carolina, CEO Dominik Mjartan said many applicants have been new customers applying for their first PPP loan or coming over from a different bank.

“I spent 30 minutes on the phone with a first time customer helping her with her $2,500 application,” he said.

Mjartan said so far, the average loan size is about half of what it was during the initial program. That’s because first-time applicants are seeking smaller loans.

“Generally, most of these are fairly small businesses with three to five employees,” he said, adding that that’s a sign the program’s working the way it’s supposed to.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?

It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.

How are Americans spending their money these days?

Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

Read More

Collapse

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.