The Small Business Administration’s flagship program just missed hitting another record high.

Volume at the agency's 7(a) program fell by 0.3% in fiscal 2018, which ended on September 30, to $25.4 billion. Though a nominal decline, it is noteworthy given several years of accelerated lending that had on multiple occasions forced lawmakers to authorize mid-year increases to the SBA's authorization cap.

Bankers and other industry observers noted that the final tally remained high and that the reasons for the decline can actually be viewed in a positive light.

The decline in guarantee volume was largely a function of the strong economy, which has allowed more banks to direct clients to conventional loans, said Bill Manger, associate administrator for the SBA's Office of Capital Access. It could also show more discipline on the part of lenders, industry observers said.

“Historically speaking, this past year was still strong,” said Jim Fliss, national SBA manager for the $138 billion-asset KeyCorp in Cleveland, characterizing the dip as little more than "a rounding error.”

Read more in American Banker.