The Covid-19 pandemic ushered in a boom in business applications in the U.S. after years of sluggishness. But is this startup surge real? It appears to be. While some data sources on entrepreneurship operate on a lag, so far it appears that the entrepreneurship surge is real and likely to lead to greater job creation and productivity in the U.S. over the long run.
The Covid-19 pandemic triggered an unexpected boom in entrepreneurship, as Americans opted to start businesses at record rates. Just as unexpected has been the boom’s durability. Would-be entrepreneurs have proven to be undaunted by recession fears, labor and supply-chain constraints, the highest inflation rates in a generation, and rapid interest rate hikes. In October 2023, over three and a half years after the pandemic’s onset, Americans were still filing 59% more applications to start new businesses than they were before the pandemic. The resurgence is all the more remarkable given how deeply startup rates and other measures of economic dynamism languished at or near all-time lows throughout the 2010s.