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Small business statistics

Stats and facts about starting a business in the US. 

The US is home to roughly 33.3 million small businesses, which accounts for roughly 99.9% of all businesses in the US, according to the US Chamber of Commerce(1).

What is considered a small business?

Small businesses are generally defined as companies that have 500 or fewer employees, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy(2).

How many small businesses are in the US?

There are about 33.3 million small businesses in the US, according to the 2023 Small Business Profile from the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy.

How many businesses are started each year?

An average of 3.3 million applications to start a business are submitted each year, and this number is only growing.

How many businesses open and close each year?

In November 2023, the SBA reported that between March 2021 and March 2022, there was a net increase in small businesses of 447,519, with 1.4 million newly formed firms and 917,825 closing their businesses.

Most businesses are small businesses

Small businesses represent 99.9% of all businesses in the US. This figure has remained almost constant since at least 2009, when small businesses made up 99.7% of all businesses. Only 33,305 businesses aren’t small businesses.

Breakdown of small businesses by size

The majority of small businesses have no employees, with about 81.6% (27.2 million businesses) being solo owner-operators.

Only about 647,900 (1.9%) have between 20 and 499 employees.

Small business employment

The number of people working in small businesses has pretty steadily increased since 2009, from around 55 million people to 61.6 million in 2022.

While the number of those employed by small businesses has been climbing since 2013, it hasn’t been growing at the same rate as larger businesses. The number of small business employees has grown by 12% over that time (55 million to 61.6 million employees), while larger businesses doubled that growth rate at 24.3%, going from 58.4 million employees to 72.6 million.

However, the percentage of Americans employed by small businesses compared to big businesses actually shrunk over the last decade. Back in 2013 closer to half of all Americans worked in small businesses (48.5%), compared to 45.9% now. That small shift is about 6.6 million jobs.

Which state has the most employees working at small businesses?

Montana is home to the highest percentage of employees working in a small business, with 65.9%. Very close behind Montana is its southern neighbor, Wyoming (65.1%), followed by Vermont at 61.5%.

At the other end of the spectrum is Florida, where just 40.9% are employed by a small business, along with Tennessee (41.7%) and Kentucky (42.4%).

Biggest job sectors for small businesses

Professional, scientific and technical services are the largest small business employers, accounting for 4.5 million establishments. At the other end of the spectrum are utilities at 277,900.

Transportation and warehousing saw the largest growth year over year at 11.2%, with the number of employer firms going from 3.1 million in 2021 to 3.4 million in 2024.

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