Special Report

Places Where People Started the Most Businesses During the Pandemic

U.S. business and employment activity took a beating during the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic that claimed nearly a million American lives. Over 22 million jobs were lost during March and April 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and millions of businesses had to shut down, some permanently. 

Since then, the economy has recovered 90% of these jobs, according to recent data. And according to ratings agency Fitch, only four states — Texas, Arizona, Utah and Idaho — had clawed back their pandemic job losses by November 2021. More locally, some parts of the country weathered the pandemic much better than others and also grew the number of businesses between the third quarter of 2019 to the same quarter in 2021. (Here are states with the largest drop in unemployment.)

To determine the 25 counties with the most business growth during the pandemic, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on the number of business establishments per county from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. We ranked the 500 largest counties by establishment count based on the percentage change in the number of establishments from the third quarter of 2019 to the third quarter of 2021. Data on employment also came from the QCEW. Data on unemployment for February 2022 came from the BLS Local Area Unemployment Statistics program and is not seasonally adjusted.

Of the top 25 U.S. counties that increased the number of business establishments during this period of time, the median gain in the number of local employers was 17.3%, and the median increase in the number of jobs was 2.1%. Nine of these counties — six of them in Georgia — experienced a decline in the number of jobs but propagated a higher number of employers.

Four of the counties on the list increased the number of business establishments by more than 20%, including Canyon County, Idaho, which also grew jobs by 11%. Wilson County, Tennessee, had nearly 17% more jobs and more establishments. Nine of the 25 counties are in Georgia, four in Florida, and four in Idaho. (Find out if any of the counties on this list are also among America’s fastest growing counties during the pandemic.)

Nationally speaking, business activity has improved considerably despite the economic headwinds of high prices. According to a Harvard University-based project called the Economic Tracker, the number of small businesses in the United States increased 2.9% by January 2022 compared to January 2020.

Here are the counties that gained the most business activity during the pandemic

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