Business starts signal economic optimism here

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Unlike many metropolitan areas nationwide, Rochester still has not returned to the employment level it had before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic in March 2020. But one key measure shows no shortage of economic optimism here.

Ranked by new business applications in 2022, Monroe County placed just outside the top third among the more than 3,100 counties nationwide, with 8,424 applications or 11.2 per 1,000 residents, an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data shows.

By comparison, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties in California—the heart of Silicon Valley—had 11.6 and 9.8 new business applications per 1,000 residents last year.

Monroe County accounted for more than three-quarters of the 10,768 new business applications in the six-county Rochester metro region. Ontario County recorded 7.9 applications per 1,000 residents in 2022. Elsewhere in the region, the tallies were Livingston, 5.8; Orleans, 7.5; Wayne, 6.7; and Yates, 7.7.

Among counties nationwide, the median per 1,000 population last year was 9.8 new business applications.

The surge in business starts here began in 2020, the year COVID struck. New applications in Monroe County rose that year to 6,063 from 5,399 the year before; in 2021, they jumped again, to 8,667. In Ontario County, there were 647 new applications in 2019 and 664 in 2020, followed by a big increase to 905 in 2021.

Regionwide, new applications totaled 7,066 in 2019, 7,756 in 2020, 10,979 in 2021 and 10,768 in 2022.

Slightly more than 5 million new business applications were filed across the U.S. in 2022, or 15.1 per 1,000 population, Axios reports. That compares with nearly 5.4 million applications, or 16.2 per 1,000 population, in the prior year.

The major metro areas with the highest number of new business applications per 1,000 residents last year were concentrated in the Southeastern U.S. However, New York County ranked near the top end of the list, and Albany, Rockland and Kings counties in New York also logged at least 20 new applications per 1,000 population.

New businesses are launched with no guarantees. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that among U.S. businesses started in March 2020, 28 percent had closed two years later. Before the pandemic, the five-year survival rate was roughly 50 percent. In addition, new-business activity in the last few years may have been spurred by pandemic-driven layoffs and industry restructurings.

But few people start a business if they are pessimistic about their community’s economic health and outlook. The surge in new business applications here appears to signal a strong vote of confidence in the region’s prospects.

Paul Ericson is Rochester Beacon executive editor. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected]

One thought on “Business starts signal economic optimism here

  1. Now, will the ROCHESTER CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT take advantage of these opportunities and teach the way kids learn?! Or will they ignore this spike in job opportunities and just let kids drop out. Will the ROCHESTER CITY SCHOOL BOARD finally step up and out of their decades long slump and give kids the opportunity to land some of those jobs?! All kids have innate skills and or gifts and it is the K-12 journey that ought to have these kids discover their innate skill or gift. If the county can do it, why not the urban education process? Lets show kids professions and careers, so that the number one question by dropouts is answered…….what do I need this s___ for anyway. Show them! Then allow them to discover their fit in society. It’s really that basic, that simple. Show them you care!!

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