With philanthropic giving increasing, programs reopening and demand for our Business Solutions services growing, our core revenue increased by 7% in 2021. Expenses were lower by 9%, which reflects necessary actions taken in late 2020, including a reduction in workforce to ensure financial stability while we navigated the uncertainty of the pandemic.
Although most programs reopened in 2021, they did so at reduced participation levels. Attendance began to rebound but was limited due to hiring challenges. While we generated a net operating loss in 2021, it was at a much lower level compared to 2020. In addition, we received pandemic relief funding in 2021, including a second Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan of $2.0 million and additional state funding of $52,000.
Our goal is to safely bring back as many of our program participants as we can while working to overcome these hiring challenges. Our cash position is solid and will enable us to continue in this environment for the foreseeable future.