While labor markets remain in a recovery phase due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans have found new opportunities to work for themselves, invest in their futures or pursue personal passions by starting their own businesses at the most rapid pace on record. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Business Formation Statistics, new business applications have surged to record highs across the country – and Nevada has been no exception.

In the Silver State, a record-setting 67,600 business applications were submitted during 2021. The year’s figure dwarfed historical levels, standing 60.1 percent above 2019’s 42,200 applications and 66.3 percent above the 40,600 annual average over the prior decade. The story was identical across the United States, as the nation reported a record high 5.4 million business applications in 2021 – nearly double the 2010-2019 annual average of 2.8 million and 53.4 percent higher than the 3.5 million reported in 2019. For both Nevada and the nation, seven out of the top 10 months for business applications were in 2021, underscoring the rapid expansion of new business formation during the year.

The lion’s share of business applications was projected to be non-employer businesses – an umbrella term for various categories of self-employment. Among the 2021 applications, the Census Bureau projected that nearly 4,700 new businesses in Nevada, approximately 7.0 percent of total applications, will become employer businesses over the next year. That number is consistent with the national figure of 7.1 percent. For both the state and nation, the share of applications projected to become employer businesses has steadily fallen over recent years. In 2019, 7.7 percent and 8.2 percent of Nevada and U.S. business applications, respectively, were projected to form employer businesses. Both figures remained substantially below their peaks of 11.3 percent for Nevada and 14.8 percent for the United States set in 2004, signaling an increasing shift toward self-employment that has accelerated since the pandemic.

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