U.S. small businesses’ access to capital at its highest level since 2012, but demand for funding is down, according to the latest results from Dun & Bradstreet and Pepperdine University’s Private Capital Access quarterly report.

Small businesses surveyed were able to access more capital, with a 5% increase in successful bank loan financing (35% financing success rate for Q4). In addition, there was an increase in access from alternative business financing options including business credit cards (60% success rate); merchant cash advances (31% success rate); and business online marketplace lenders (26% success rate).

However, the segement’s demand for funding fell 5.2% from the third quarter, according to the survey.

Dun & Bradstreet and Pepperdine define small businesses as those with less than $5 million in revenue and midsize businesses as those with $5 million to $100 million in revenue.

Mid-sized businesses, too, are seeing decreases in demand for capital (-3.8% change since Q3). This segment also had a decline in bank loan access in the fourth quarter (73% success rate, a 17% decrease from last quarter).

“Mid-size businesses struggled with demand more than their small counterparts for the first time in quite a while, which is concerning” for the overall economy, said Dr. Craig R. Everett, director of the Pepperdine Private Capital Markets Project, in a press release.

“Since a growing small business quickly becomes a medium-sized business, I consider medium-sized businesses the true bellwether of growth in our economy. With demand for capital taking a hit for these mid-sized businesses, the overall business growth outlook seems very soft. These businesses are saying that they are optimistic about growth, but they do not appear to be making actual plans to grow.”

Other findings from the report:

  • 80% of small and midsize businesses expect 2016 to be better than the previous year, with 87% confident of growth in 2016.
  • 72% of small and midsize businesses expect to increase revenue in 2016 by an average of 10%.
  • 56% of small businesses believe the current economic environment is restricting their businesses’ growth opportunities compared with just 25% of midsize businesses.
  • 49% of small businesses indicated the current business environment is restricting their ability to hire, compared with 22% of midsize businesses.

The report was derived from 2,773 survey responses collected from November 2-20, 2015.

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