In early April, the U.S. economy appeared to begin paring recent gains made from a post-election stock market rally, thanks to new reports on a variety of metrics.

First, there was news April 7 that the American workforce added fewer jobs in March than most economists anticipated. The following week came news from Federal Reserve data that overall lending activity to businesses was in decline, too. However, it may not yet be all doom and gloom for everyone, including the nation's vibrant startup ecosystem.

Fed data showed that as of early 2017, banks were extending fewer loans to businesses in some sectors. Overall loan activity as measured by dollar value was flat in February 2017, while lending to manufacturers and energy companies fell for the first time in several months.

Details of latest loan report

Experts noted that the news wasn't entirely shocking or disappointing for a few reasons. Namely, energy prices have been in flux, which has made it slightly more risky for banks to extend loans to this sector. Additionally, business inventories were found to be lower, which actually indicates higher sales activity and thus less need for debt financing. 

Elsewhere in the report, economists also celebrated a growth in lending to small firms, including tech startups. Some would even call the small-business lending numbers more reflective of the economy's overall health, since it is these firms that conduct the majority of hiring around the U.S. Not only did more small businesses receive bigger loans in early 2017, they continued to pay them off on time. The data revealed the share of commercial loans more than 30 days overdue was only 1.67 percent in February 2017.

Of course, startups often rely on several different forms of financing, whether it's debt or equity. And as any tech-savvy entrepreneur can attest, there are now many more options available for capital infusion beyond big-name banks. Some of the same platforms and tools being developed by small Silicon Valley startups are helping people mine new sources of financing, whether it's crowdsourcing or venture capital. This trend may also account for the general stagnation in commercial lending seen throughout the U.S. recently.

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