U.S. Businesses Continue to Show Sharp Declines

Written by: William G. Bostic Jr., US Census Bureau

For most, it would not come as a surprise to learn that the last couple of years have been a time of economic hardship for our nation. Headlines have depicted a troubling job market and communities have faced the reality of deep budget cuts.

Statistics released recently from the Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns reveal a loss of 168,000 businesses between 2008 and 2009 and a decrease of 6 million employees.

This is the only complete source of annual county-level statistics for U.S. business establishments with industry detail. Most of the nation’s economic activity is covered by these statistics, and they are very useful for examining economic change over time.

2008 Change in Establishments by Industry, County Business Patterns These losses were universal among states; all states saw decline in employer businesses in 2009, and only Alaska and the District of Columbia gained employees between 2008 and 2009.

Additionally, the statistics presented in County Business Patterns show how each industry sector fared between 2008 and 2009. As another indicator of current economic hardships, 16 of 19 sectors showed declines, led by construction with a 7.8 percent decline in the number of establishments and a 15.3 percent decline in the number of employees.

These detailed statistics are provided at the national, state and county levels. To get a look at the business activity in your county, click here.

These statistics do not include figures for self-employed individuals, employees of private households, railroad employees, agricultural production employees and most government employees.

Watch our archived live video chat with Census Bureau statisticians.

To learn more, visit the Census Bureau Newsroom.

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