More Businesses Exist Now Than Before the Pandemic

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In early 2020, as Covid-19 pushed many companies to either close or shed employees at an alarming rate, those newly out of work found something to do with their free time: start a business.

A new report released this week by a Washington think tank says 7% more physical businesses exist now than before the pandemic started. That’s because entrepreneurs, propped up by direct government subsidies and stimulus payments, built companies like it was, well, nobody’s business.

Services With a Smile

Nearly 170,000 new professional and technical service firms were added nationwide between the third quarter of 2019 and the third quarter of 2021, making up 23% of overall growth, the report from the Economic Innovation Group found. And, with so many staying home and ordering necessities online, freight trucking companies rapidly sprouted, especially in counties where hubs already existed.

All told, nearly 75% of US counties have more businesses now than before the pandemic, with the biggest gainers being small and mid-sized counties throughout the West and South. Of the 25% of counties that didn’t grow, New York was hit particularly hard, creating what appears to be a Big Apple-Potato divide:

  • Manhattan (aka, New York County) lost more businesses than any other county, down nearly 400 full-service restaurants and 300 limited-service restaurants alone — and almost 4,700 overall.
  • Meanwhile, Ada County, Idaho, home to the City of Boise — where many newly remote workers migrated amid Covid — added 3,779 businesses, a 23% jump that made the Gem State the nation’s top business incubator.

Just Peachy: Georgia’s Down South, Cobb, and Fulton Counties grew more than 15% during the pandemic after posting just 2% and 4% growth, respectively, in the prior two-year period.

Old Is New Business: Businesses providing services to the elderly and disabled added nearly 100,000 new establishments, or 13% of national net growth.