BusinessDriver issuesNewsTrucking

Inside the PPP data: Lots of small companies benefited from the program

The massive amount of data that the Small Business Administration released late Tuesday on recipients of money under the Paycheck Protection Program is a gold mine of information, especially about smaller trucking-related firms.

While a fair amount of granular data had already been released several months ago about the companies that received PPP loans, data about the smaller recipients was intentionally vague. It was that lack of specificity that The Washington Post and other organizations sued SBA over, a court case that effectively ended this week with the government agency capitulating and releasing detailed data on all the loans.

FreightWaves looked at three NAICS classifications in the release: the 54164 code for 3PLs, the 484121 for long-distance truckload companies and the 484122 data for LTL carriers. Data about companies that received loans that totaled less than $150,000 was released weeks ago but with so little detail as to be virtually useless.

We have rounded our numbers in what we’ve found in going through the thousands of lines of data to give a sense of the scale of what the smaller companies got from the SBA.

— In the category of truckload, for loans less than $150,000, about 27,500 companies fell into that category. The average loan went to a company with about 2.25 employees. However, several companies have listed zero employees, which may need to be clarified in any sort of review a company needs to go through to receive loan forgiveness. The zeroes in the total are why the average payout per company of about $32,285 doesn’t equate with the average payout per job of about $9,265 and a company size of 2.25 workers. But it does drive home the point that there were many small recipients of these funds. 

— The money that went for LTL employees was a little richer. The average payout there was about $11,360 per employee and about 6,320 jobs were listed as being supported by the PPP money. 

— For 3PL companies, the average payout per job was about $9,800 and the number of jobs that were to be preserved by PPP was 12,741.

— As noted earlier by FreightWaves, four companies received the maximum payout of $10 million. Overall, about 175 companies received payouts in excess of $2.5 million, stretching across the three categories observed. Including the four $10 million companies, 11 companies in total said they were protecting 500 jobs with the PPP money.

— The size of some of the loans is so small that it raises the question: Why bother? For example, MTDS of Kingman, Arizona, listed under the LTL category, got a loan of $35. Michael Johnston of Bald Knob, Arizona, listed as a truckload carrier, got $246.67, and yes, the 67 cents is specified in the data.

— But significantly, there were many one-job companies that received funds. It might be as small as $2,000. But it does signal that a fair number of independent owner-operators, many of whom had been reported to be confused about their status under PPP, did take advantage of the program. As for the truckload companies that received $150,000 or more, the average number of workers per company was 50.

— With 357 companies, California had the largest group of firms in the three groups that received loans of more than $150,000. No other state was close. 

More articles by John Kingston

PPP money lowered freight rates during pandemic’s darkest days: Convoy

Drilling Deep: Loan forgiveness is the next big step as PPP moves toward its completion

Fired Publix driver loses appeal in case alleging racial discrimination 

John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.