Back in November, the Planet Money newsletter reported that — despite a deadly pandemic and an ugly recession — America was seeing a boom in the creation of new startups. We spoke with University of Maryland economist John Haltiwanger, one of the leading scholars of business formation. Now Haltiwanger has a new study out, and the trend is clear: “The surge continues,” Haltiwanger says. “We’re now convinced this wasn’t just a blip.”
Like so many other areas of the economy, applications for new businesses pulled back in the first half of 2020 but then snapped forward again like a slingshot. Not only was 2020 the best year on record for new business creation since the Census Bureau began tracking it in 2004, but applications for new businesses have continued to soar, through at least last month. In May, there were a half a million applications for new businesses; the second highest month on record, below only last July. In total, there have been more than six million filings for new businesses since the pandemic began. The boom can be seen in both businesses composed of only one self-employed person and businesses that the Census expects will employ multiple people.