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Retailers, restaurants, hotels get 18% of small business bailout cash: SBA

(Reuters) – Retailers, restaurants and hotels — whose low-paid workers are among the hardest hit in the coronavirus pandemic — got a combined 18% of the $342 billion allocated under a new federal government program to help small firms keep paying their employees during widespread shutdowns, data from the agency running the program showed on Friday.

In all about 1.66 million businesses have won loans under the first-come, first-served program, which ran out of money on Thursday. The data released Friday covers nearly all of the $349 billion that had been allocated under the program.

Construction firms and professional services firms each accounted for about 13% of the total pot, and manufacturers and health care firms about 12% each, the data showed.

Firms providing food services and accommodations got about 9% of the total, about the same percentage as retailers.

The program is part of a $2.3 trillion rescue package passed late last month by the U.S. Congress to shore up an economy ravaged by efforts to slow the spread of the virus. It is designed to allow businesses to keep paying their employees even while much of the U.S. economy is shuttered, with the hope that doing so will allow them to more quickly ramp up operations once authorities allow them to reopen.

The Trump administration is negotiating with Congress over adding an additional $250 billion to the pot.

Firms in the three biggest U.S. states together accounted for about 23% of all loans so far, with $28.5 billion allocated to 135,000 businesses in Texas, $33.4 billion slated to go to 113,000 California businesses, and $20.3 billion to go to 81,000 firms in New York.

The SBA did not say how much of that money has actually been disbursed; paperwork and other obstacles have slowed that process, though some businesses are reporting they’ve received the money from their lenders. Others applied early and learned Thursday that there was no money left.

Some 74% of loans across all states were for $150,000 or less, though 4,412 firms received more than $5 million each, pushing the average loan amount to $206,000, the data showed.

(Reporting by Ann Saphir, Howard Schneider, Dan Burns; Editing by Franklin Paul and Chizu Nomiyama)