The U.S. Small Business Administration has released its 2012 Small Business Economy, a comprehensive statistical report on the state of small business.  The SBA has been offering the Small Business Economy as a downloadable resource for business owners and entrepreneurs since 2001.

The report shows that 2011 was the “second full year of economic expansion since the end of the downturn in mid-2009,” according to the SBA’s official overview.  Bankruptcies and unemployment declined, while output, income, and profit rose among small businesses.  According to the SBA, small businesses makes up about 50 percent of the private sector and 99 percent of all businesses.

Among the less promising statistics included in the 2012 Small Business Economy report are that new businesses and new business employment have yet to reach pre-recession levels, as do the number of self-employed individuals.  Dissecting the latter category, the SBA has found that self-employment declined among women and Hispanics over the past two years, but has risen among Asians and African Americans.

As has been the case in most years since 1992 when private sector employment was on the rise, small businesses of fewer than 500 employees contributed higher net job creation than larger firms in three of 2011’s four quarters.

In terms of business lending, 2011 saw a smaller average loan size.  This is indicated by an increase in the number of outstanding small business loans, but a decrease in loan value.  Total lending has been up through June 2012.

Experts are utilizing the newly released statistics to flesh out a number of developing economic trends.  For example, the number of businesses with employees has been dwindling since 1997.  In that year, employer firms comprised 26.4 percent of all U.S. companies.  In 2010, they account for only 20.6 percent.

Another notable trend is the decline of small business’ share of private sector employment.  In 1997, small businesses accounted for 54.5 percent of private sector employment, but that percentage has steadily dropped to 49.1 percent in 2010.  The share officially dipped below the 50 percent mark in 2007.

Finally, although the formation of new employer firms has yet to reach pre-recession levels, it does appear to have stabilized.  After a sharp decline from 2006 to 2009, the number of new firms per 1,000 people increased slightly (1.7 to 1.73) from 2009 to 2010.


Shane, Scott. “Current Entrepreneurship Statistics and Trends.” Small Business Trends 3/4/13.