• US entrepreneurship levels hovered at the 250,000 in the years leading up to the pandemic.
  • 2020 saw a sharp rise in US business applications, but this has plateaued in the past year.
  • Retail has been a dominant area of the growth.

Business applications in the US surged during the pandemic. But while numbers remain higher than years before, entrepreneurship appears to be leveling off, data from the US Census Bureau released yesterday show. Overall the report shows applications for tax identification numbers increased 4.1% from December to January.

A chart to show total US business applications
Professional services, construction and transportation and warehousing have been popular industries to set up businesses in
Image: Quartz/US Census Bureau, Business Formation Statistics

What is the COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship?

The COVID Response Alliance to Social Entrepreneurs - soon to continue its work as the Global Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship - was launched in April 2020 in response to the devastating effects of the pandemic. Co-founded by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship together with Ashoka, Echoing Green, GHR Foundation, Skoll Foundation, and Yunus Social Business.

The Alliance provides a trusted community for the world’s leading corporations, investors, governments, intermediaries, academics, and media who share a commitment to social entrepreneurship and innovation.

Since its inception, it has since grown to become the largest multi-stakeholder coalition in the social enterprise sector: its 90+ members collectively support over 100,000 social entrepreneurs across the world. These entrepreneurs, in turn, have a direct or indirect impact on the lives of an estimated 2 billion people.


Together, they work to (i) mobilize support for social entrepreneurs and their agendas; (ii) take action on urgent global agendas using the power of social entrepreneurship, and (iii) share insights from the sector so that social entrepreneurs can flourish and lead the way in shaping an inclusive, just and sustainable world.

The Alliance works closely together with member organizations Echoing Green and GHR Foundation, as well as the Centre for the New Economy and Society on the roll out of its 2022 roadmap (soon to be announced).

There were 430,411 applications of which 12% were from corporations.

More businesses for retail

Retail trade continued to have the most business applications and the largest growth. Applications grew 21.6% month-to-month for goods sellers. The top industries for new businesses included professional services, construction, and transportation and warehousing though they all saw drops from December.

A chart to show US business applications by top industries
Following the sharp rise, business applications took a sharp dip before rebounding
Image: Quartz/US Census Bureau, Business Formation Statistics