Construction firms fare worst in loan crunch

Construction workers credit
In a recent poll looking at small business credit, construction companies topped the list of those saying banks simply won't lend to their type of business.

It's hard for all businesses to get a loan these days, but construction companies have it the worst.

In a new survey by the New York Federal Reserve, construction companies were the most likely to say banks simply wouldn't lend to their type of business. Other sectors reported tough times, too, but nowhere near as bad.

The survey included responses from 544 companies in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York earlier this year.

Access to capital was cited by 36% of companies as the biggest growth barrier, higher than government regulations and difficulties finding qualified workers.

Seeking a small loan to solve short-term problems, like making payroll? Good luck. The smaller the loan, the more likely a lender will deny it. The denial rate for applications for small loans (less than $100,000) was more than twice as high as it was for bigger loans.

Claire Kramer, a Fed bank officer who worked on the survey, said that the types of firms seeking smaller loans tend to be younger, weaker and riskier.

Another contributing factor could be that small loans are less profitable for major banks, so there's less reason to do them.

Related: Banks keep lending standards tight for small firms

Tapping into a home equity line proved to be the best way to secure a loan, with the highest approval rate at 63%. Unsurprisingly, that option is nowhere near as popular as it was during the housing boom, given that housing prices have since plummeted and few can claim to have equity in their homes now.

Meanwhile, the option most often sought by businesses -- opening a new credit line -- faced the lowest approval rate at 13%.

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