The National Bureau of Economic Research has dug into where the Paycheck Protection Program money went. It turns out that it mostly did not go to paychecks.
I am pulling from the report directly.
With 93 percent of small businesses ultimately receiving one or more loans, the PPP nearly saturated its market in just two months. We estimate that the program cumulatively preserved between 2 and 3 million job-years of employment over 14 months at the cost of $170K to $257K per job-year retained. These estimates imply that only 23 to 34 percent of PPP dollars went directly to workers who would otherwise have lost jobs; the balance flowed to business owners and shareholders, including creditors and suppliers of PPP-receiving firms. Program incidence was highly regressive, with about three-quarters of PPP funds accruing to the top quintile of households.
Why do we care?
This was a very costly program and mostly went to business owners and shareholders… and mostly high-income households. For every job retained, it costs between 170 thousand and 257 thousand dollars. Only a third even went to workers. Most went right to business owners.
This program did not work as intended. It did not save jobs. It did not protect people. Instead, it took money from future generations and gave it to business owners, creditors, suppliers, and shareholders.