Skip to:
  1. Main navigation
  2. Main content
  3. Footer
Press Release

Fed survey: Small business conditions hold steady, but challenges persist

The Small Business Credit Survey highlights a drop in supply chain challenges and modest optimism for growth, but performance indices remain below pre-pandemic levels

Small business revenue and employment growth stabilized last year as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continued to wane, according to the 2024 Report on Employer Firms: Findings from the 2023 Small Business Credit Survey, released today by the 12 Federal Reserve Banks.

The 2024 SBCS yielded 6,131 responses from a nationwide sample of small employer firms with 1–499 full- or part-time employees across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Key findings:

  • Performance indices held steady year-over-year, but challenges remain. Revenue and employment measures remained well above pandemic-era lows but are still below pre-pandemic levels. Despite a decline in the share of firms that identified staffing and rising costs as challenges, these remain significant headwinds. The share of firms reporting supply chain issues declined markedly, falling to 41% in 2023 from 60% in 2022.
  • Debt levels were higher in 2023 than in years prior to the pandemic. Thirty-nine percent of firms had more than $100,000 in debt, up from 31% in 2019. More than half of firms said higher interest rates were contributing to increased debt costs.
  • Demand for financing declined from 2022 to 2023, and approval rates remained steady. Application rates fell from 40% to 37%. Firms applying at small banks, credit unions and finance companies were most likely to be approved.

Looking forward, firms were much more likely to expect increases than decreases in revenue and employment in the coming year, though they were more optimistic pre-pandemic.

Along with details on firm performance and financing, this report includes findings related to a series of special questions on payments, COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan debt, and businesses’ relationships with financial services providers.

Read the Report: The 2024 Report on Employer Firms: Findings from the 2023 Small Business Credit Survey

Additional Information and Resources: Home - Fed Small Business

About the Small Business Credit Survey

The SBCS is an annual survey of firms with fewer than 500 employees. These types of firms represent 99.7% of all employer establishments in the United States. Respondents are asked to report information about their business performance, financing needs and choices, and borrowing experiences. Responses to the SBCS provide insights on the dynamics behind lending trends and shed light on various segments of the small business population. The SBCS is not a random sample; results should be analyzed with awareness of potential biases that are associated with convenience samples.

Fielded September through November 2023, the most recent SBCS was the fourth conducted since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020. The 2023 SBCS yielded nearly 11,000 responses from a nationwide convenience sample of small firms across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, including 6,131 responses from employer firms with 1–499 full- or part-time employees. The remaining responses represent nonemployer firms, or those with no employees other than the owner(s). A separate report on nonemployer firms is forthcoming.

Media contact

Chuck Soder,, 216.672.2798