Number of U.S. Businesses Went Up, Not Down, During Pandemic, Analysis Says

As of the third quarter of 2021, the United States overall had more physical locations of businesses than before the pandemic, new data shows.

Of the 10 largest counties in the U.S., only New York County saw an overall decrease in business sites from September 2020 to September 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Overall, about three quarters of counties across the U.S. reported a larger number of business establishments in the third quarter of 2021 than they had before the pandemic in 2019, the Economic Innovation Group (EIG) reported.

The pandemic's onset brought fears of mass closures of small businesses, and while many did close, the data shows federal aid programs to help businesses prevented some from closing, or led to new ones opening.

The South and West saw the largest increases in number of businesses, as the counties with the most growth in business locations were Los Angeles, Miami-Dade, and Maricopa in Arizona, each with over 10,000 more sites than in 2019, according to EIG.

Service establishments grew at twice the rate of goods-focused businesses, EIG reported. In addition, the new Labor Bureau data shows that all of the 10 largest counties have seen increases in employment rate and the average weekly wage.

The 74 percent of counties that had matched or exceeded their 2019 numbers of businesses in two years is one of the largest increases in recent U.S. history, as just 44 percent of counties had equaled or increased the number of businesses a full five years after the financial crisis and recession of 2008, EIG reported.

The South saw the highest rate of establishment growth (9.4 percent), ahead of the West (7.3 percent), Northeast (6.3 percent) and Midwest (5.2 percent), EIG reported. The patterns of growth follow other metrics from over the course of the pandemic, like which regions and states imposed lighter measures such as lockdowns and restrictions on in-person activities.

Idaho saw the largest increases of establishments as a whole, increasing the number of businesses by about 25 percent, with several counties in the top 10 for largest rates of growth, EIG reported.

More recently, the unemployment rate fell another 0.2 percent to 3.6 percent in March as employers added over 430,000 jobs last month, Newsweek previously reported.

However, inflation and record-high gas prices have offset many of the economic gains and wage increases that have been reported in recent months as the Russian invasion of Ukraine has impacted several areas of the global economy.

Last week, President Joe Biden announced plans to release about 180 million barrels of oil from the U.S. strategic reserves over the next six months with the hopes of decreasing gas prices at least temporarily across the country.

Update 4/5/22, 6:05 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with additional information and background.

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A new report shows that overall, the U.S. has more physical locations of businesses as of the third quarter of 2021 than it did prior to the pandemic. Above, the streets of Manhattan stand nearly empty due to the coronavirus epidemic on April 10, 2020, in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images