More than 70% of U.S. counties gained businesses since start of pandemic

U.S. President Joe Biden talks about his plan to strengthen supply chains Monday. An analysis released Tuesday shows 74% of U.S. counties have seen a net gain in the number of businesses since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic decline. Photo by Ting Shen/UPI

April 6 (UPI) — Nearly 75% of counties across the United States have seen a net increase in the number of businesses since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to an analysis released Tuesday by a non-partisan think tank.

Of the 3,006 U.S. counties, 74% had more physical business establishments at the end of September than they did before the start of the pandemic and ensuing recession in March 2020, according to the Economic Innovation Group.

The Group points to the unprecedented direct federal aid as the chief cause of the economic resilience, helping businesses to survive the downturn, combined with household and monetary stimulus that enabled a new crop of enterprises to take root.

By contrast, 44% of counties reached a similar milestone five years after the onset of the 2008 financial crisis.

Contrary to some predictions, the pandemic did not plunge the U.S. economy into a wave of permanent business closures.

“In fact, the opposite happened — total business establishments nationwide stood 7 percent above their pre-pandemic levels as of the third quarter of 2021, the latest data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages shows,” wrote the group’s analysts.

Geographically, growth was tied more to the south and the western parts of the country. Los Angeles County, Miami-Dade County and Maricopa County added the most establishments, with each growing by at least 10,000 businesses.

Most counties in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Florida added business establishments at rates faster than the country at-large, even those not bordering an urban center.

Mid-sized counties throughout the West and South also did better than average. The Group lists Ada County, Idaho, as an example. The county, which includes the city of Boise, saw its business establishment total grow 23%.

New York County, which is coextensive with Manhattan, lost 4,695 business locations between the end of 2019 and the third quarter of 2021, which is more than any other county.

Queens County, Baltimore County and Michigan’s Wayne County, which includes Detroit, also saw outright declines in the number of established businesses.

“During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, fears of a massive wave of small business failures were pervasive. Fortunately, these fears failed to materialize, no doubt due in part to unprecedented direct federal aid to help businesses survive the downturn, combined with household and monetary stimulus that enabled an entirely new crop of enterprises to take root,” wrote EIG associate Connor O’Brien.


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