2009: A Year of US Entrepreneurial Activity

The Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity produced good news for the year 2009: Americans have created businesses at its fastest rate in 14 years. This past year, 558,000 businesses were created each month, marking a 4% increase from 2008. Though this comes in the midst of economic recession, president and CEO of the Kauffman foundation Carl Schramm seems to think the unsavory results of massive layoffs have fostered these higher rates of entrepreneurship, serving as “a motivational boost” for the newly unemployed to become their own boss. He sees the recent rates in business startups as a favorable sign for economic recovery.

Using the monthly Current Population Survey from the US Census Bureau and US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Kauffman index has tracked the demographic makeup of business creators, as well as their location. Though African Americans lag behind other groups in terms of the number of entrepreneurs, they saw the largest increase from 2008 to 2009 from an index of .22 to an index of .27. Both the 35-44 and 55-64-year-old groups have increased to an index of .40 percent, also the greatest of their demographic category.

The index followed predictable trends in terms of location of entrepreneurial activity, showing that the largest rate increases occurred in the south and west in states like Oklahoma, Montana, Texas, and Arizona while Mississippi, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania floundered. However, business creation rates in the Midwest and South outdid those of the west, which actually declined from 0.42 to 0.38 percent from 2008 to 2009.

You can find interactive data on entrepreneurial activity for the period spanning 1996-2009 on the Kauffman Foundation’s website at www.kauffman.org/kiea.

Kirsten Moore is an undergraduate at Chapman University majoring in US history and screenwriting.