Thousands of the country’s construction-related firms have benefited from federal Paycheck Protection Program loans to help them weather the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus crisis.

Data released last week by the the federal government showed that it issued $521 billion in loans, with an average loan size of $107,000. Targeted at keeping workers employed, the government said the program has helped to support about 51 million jobs. 

Construction Dive asked readers about their experience with PPP loans. Nearly 96% of respondents said they had applied for a loan and of those, 92% received a loan. The amount of the loans varied a great deal (see chart below).

A majority of readers (55%) said their experience with applying for and receiving the loan was easy or extremely easy while 36% were neutral and 9% said it was difficult. Respondent Susan Peery, principal of Glazing Contractors of Virginia, said the application process was smooth because her company has an established relationship with a community bank known to be business friendly.

“The hardest part was waiting,” she said. “At the time, it seemed like forever, but in retrospect our bank processed our application in less than 10 days and funding was received.”

The loans were designed to help companies keep workers on the payroll and Construction Dive readers said they are doing just that. The amount of employees being helped by the funds ran the gamut, from less than 10 to more than 150.

“The PPP program did exactly what it was designed to do for my small business,” wrote one reader. “We were not only able to retain our staff but we continued to invest in growth and adding staff. Without the PPP loan we would have been very challenged to keep our business profitable through this recession.”

Several readers mentioned they are hopeful that their loans will be forgiven soon. New Senate legislation would allow small businesses that received a loan of $150,000 or less to obtain automatic forgiveness after submitting a one-page attestation form.

“We are anxious to get the whole thing behind us,” Peery said. “We have all the same people we started with, which was the intent.”