However, anecdotes like Mr. Geismann’s are not easy to interpret. Perhaps Schuchart and similar companies would have found another way to make ends meet or would have hired workers again quickly after construction projects resumed.
Economists have tried to answer this question with data. Mr. Autor compared companies with just under 500 employees – who could qualify for the original version of the program – with companies just above that size that could not. If the loans were of great help, the smaller companies should have kept many more of their workers. Instead, Mr. Autor found little difference between the two groups.
However, some economists argue that such research underestimates the impact of the program because it does not focus on the smallest businesses that were less likely to have large cash reserves or other financial resources.
A paper based on a survey of Oakland, Calif. Companies found that those who received PPP loans were 20.5 percent more likely to say they would survive half a year – that the relatively larger one However, optimism was limited to companies with fewer than five employees.
Robert Bartlett, one of the authors of the Oakland study, said economists like Mr. Autor might be right that PPP saved fewer jobs than hoped. “But for these small businesses, it has helped them keep their doors open,” he said. “I am convinced of that.” Many of these companies are located in poor areas or are owned by racial or ethnic minorities.
Daniel G. Guerra Jr. founded AltusLearn in 2013, which provides training and compliance courses for healthcare professionals. Last year, the Madison, Wisconsin-based company had six employees and was well on its way to a year of significant growth.
Instead, at the beginning of the pandemic, the medical centers suspended virtually all non-urgent treatments and dropped out of training.