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Entrepreneurship During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Evidence from the Business Formation Statistics

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  • John C. Haltiwanger

Abstract

Applications for new businesses from the U.S. Census Bureau’s monthly and weekly Business Formation Statistics (BFS) fell substantially in the early stages of the pandemic but then surged in the second half of 2020. This surge has continued through May 2021. The pace of applications since mid-2020 is the highest on record (earliest data available is 2004). The large increase in applications is for both likely new employers and nonemployers. These patterns contrast sharply with those in the Great Recession when applications for likely new employer businesses and in turn actual startups of employer businesses declined sharply and persistently. The surge in new business applications has been uneven across sectors. Ten 3-digit NAICS industries account for 75% of the surge. Dominant industries include Nonstore Retail (alone accounting for 33% of the surge), Professional, Scientific and Technical Services, Truck Transportation, and Accommodation and Food Services. Given that existing small businesses in Retail Trade and Accommodation and Food Services have suffered especially large declines in the pandemic, these patterns are consistent with restructuring induced by the pandemic.

Suggested Citation

  • John C. Haltiwanger, 2021. "Entrepreneurship During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Evidence from the Business Formation Statistics," NBER Working Papers 28912, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:28912
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kimberly Bayard & Emin M. Dinlersoz & Timothy Dunne & John Haltiwanger & Javier Miranda & John J. Stevens, 2018. "Early-Stage Business Formation : An Analysis of Applications for Employer Identification Numbers," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2018-015, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    2. Ryan A. Decker & John Haltiwanger & Ron S. Jarmin & Javier Miranda, 2020. "Changing Business Dynamism and Productivity: Shocks versus Responsiveness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 110(12), pages 3952-3990, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jose Asturias & Emin Dinlersoz & John Haltiwanger & Rebecca Hutchinson, 2021. "Business Applications as Economic Indicators," Working Papers 21-09, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    2. Yue Dai, 2021. "A Behavioral Cultural-Based Development Analysis of Entrepreneurship in China," Administrative Sciences, MDPI, vol. 11(3), pages 1-16, September.
    3. Iman Cheratian & Saleh Goltabar & Mohammad Reza Farzanegan, 2022. "Survival Strategies under Sanctions: Firm-Level Evidence from Iran," CESifo Working Paper Series 9568, CESifo.
    4. Catherine E. Fazio & Jorge Guzman & Yupeng Liu & Scott Stern, 2021. "How is COVID Changing the Geography of Entrepreneurship? Evidence from the Startup Cartography Project," NBER Working Papers 28787, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Catherine Buffington & Daniel Chapman & Emin Dinlersoz & Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger, 2021. "High Frequency Business Dynamics in the United States During the COVID-19 Pandemic," Working Papers 21-06, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    6. Shyngys Karimov & Jozef Konings, 2021. "How lockdown causes a missing generation of start-ups and jobs," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 457-473, July.
    7. Cindy Cunningham & Sabrina Wulff Pabilonia & Jay Stewart & Lucia Foster & Cheryl Grim & John Haltiwanger & Zoltan Wolf, 2021. "Chaos Before Order: Productivity Patterns in U.S. Manufacturing," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 41, pages 138-152, Fall.
    8. Alejandra Bellatin & Gabriela Galassi, 2022. "What COVID-19 May Leave Behind: Technology-Related Job Postings in Canada," Staff Working Papers 22-17, Bank of Canada.
    9. Catherine Buffington & Daniel Chapman & Emin Dinlersoz & Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger, 2021. "High-frequency data from the U.S. Census Bureau during the COVID-19 pandemic: small vs. new businesses," Business Economics, Palgrave Macmillan;National Association for Business Economics, vol. 56(3), pages 155-167, July.
    10. Bellatin, Alejandra & Galassi, Gabriela, 2022. "What COVID-19 May Leave Behind: Technology-Related Job Postings in Canada," IZA Discussion Papers 15209, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    11. Cirera,Xavier & Vargas Da Cruz,Marcio Jose & Grover,Arti Goswami & Iacovone,Leonardo & Medvedev,Denis & Pereira Lopez,Mariana De La Paz & Reyes,Santiago, 2021. "Firm Recovery during COVID-19 : Six Stylized Facts," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9810, The World Bank.
    12. Thibaut Duprey & Daniel E. Rigobon & Philip Schnattinger & Artur Kotlicki & Soheil Baharian & T. R. Hurd, 2022. "Business Closures and (Re)Openings in Real Time Using Google Places," Staff Working Papers 22-1, Bank of Canada.
    13. John Haltiwanger, 2022. "Entrepreneurship in the twenty-first century," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 58(1), pages 27-40, January.
    14. Florian Eckert & Heiner Mikosch, 2022. "Firm bankruptcies and start-up activity in Switzerland during the COVID-19 crisis," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics, Springer;Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics, vol. 158(1), pages 1-25, December.

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    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship

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