Useful Stats: Most sectors on a downward trend in high-growth firms

Shrinking shares of job-creating, high-growth firms across the country, the topic of SSTI’s Useful Stats column in last week’s Digest, is not being experienced within all sectors of the economy, according to analysis of the Business Dynamics Statistics of High Growth Firms (BDS-HG) experimental dataset from the Census Bureau. From 1978-2021, the number of high-growth firms, measured by change in employment, has increased in five sectors, stayed the same in one, and decreased in the remaining 13 classifications of U.S. business and industrial activity. Slower-growth firms expanded their dominance of the economy, as all sectors experienced a decrease in the number of high-growth firms as a percentage of their total respective firms.

Useful Stats: High-growth firms on the decline nationwide

High-growth firms are often conflated with all other firms. Unfortunately, this tendency makes it extremely difficult to differentiate those with a higher likelihood of significantly impacting the economy and innovation. While reports like the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) have found increasing rates of entrepreneurship over the past decade, barring a drop at the onset of the pandemic, new U.S. Census Bureau data on high-growth firms reveals the opposite for the number of high-growth firms, with steady, significant decreases in the number and share of high-growth firms across the nation.

Useful Stats: The new US Census Bureau high-growth firm data set, 1978-2021

Information on the geographic distribution of innovation and entrepreneurship is not easy to tease out of many federal statistical data sets, leading regional policy often to be based on trends in all business starts or life span and size—ignoring the fact that some firms have greater impact on regional economic growth than others. The U.S. Census Bureau is well aware of the challenge and, earlier this week, released an experimental data set that allows for an examination of state-level long-term trends in the change in high-growth firms and establishments across the nation.

New census tract data affects CDFI certification, SSBCI eligibility and more

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund released a file and map summarizing core economic data for each census tract. Policymakers and practitioners should be aware of these changes for both what the data reveal about local economic trends and the impact the changes could have on future program eligibility. Importantly, tract-level economic distress is integral to CDFI certification and business eligibility for portions of Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), as well as being a common reference for federal programs that prioritize distressed regions. The new data makes numerous changes from the 2018 update, including nearly 23,000 new census tract IDs and more than 11,000 tracts with a different economic distress status.

Small Business Pulse Survey Phase 7 announced

The U.S. Census Bureau has recently announced that data collection has begun for Phase 7 of the Small Business Pulse Survey (SBPS). The SBPS measures the effects of changing conditions for small businesses (businesses that have a single location and under 500 employees) during the COVID-19 pandemic. This phase of the survey also includes new questions on changes in the use of digital technologies and in business, production, and management practices. Aside from surveying strictly business metrics, Phase 7 will also include questions that assess workplace COVID-19 vaccination and testing statistics and the overall well-being of business owners.

Census survey reveals majority of small businesses expect long-term challenges

Concluding its final phase of the Small Business Pulse Survey (SBPS), the U.S. Census Bureau released findings comparing responses from early in the pandemic to those collected the first week in January. From early responses collected in April 2020 to those collected this winter, business expectations of a return to normal level of operations have shifted so that there are many businesses with expectations at opposite extremes: businesses with expectation of a short-term return to normal and those facing long-term challenges.

Help shape the 2022 Economic Census

The Census Bureau is requesting public input on the Economic Census. Conducted every five years, the survey serves as the most comprehensive source of information about American businesses. According to the Census, the survey establishes data for nearly 1,000 industries and more than 20,000 regions, including company revenues, and is used to support measures of gross domestic product and standard industry classifications (i.e. NAICS). The starting point for the 2022 survey will be the questions asked in 2017. Comments are requested by Feb. 12, 2021, and should be directed to Kimberly Moore, the Census Bureau’s chief of the economy-wide statistics division at econ.content@census.gov.

US Census participation vital, but lagging

With congressional apportionment along with federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities on the line, the U.S. Census count is vital to every community. But the 2020 decennial count has hit another roadblock with lagging participation and a delay in outreach efforts. Due to national social distancing guidelines and some states’ stay-at-home orders prompted by the COVID-19 outbreak, “Census Day,” originally scheduled for April 1, was recently postponed until at least April 15. The U.S. Census Bureau uses the day to kick-off in-person counting and outreach efforts, a huge component of the 2020 count.

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