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Study: Start-ups Create Lasting Job Growth

Though only a fifth of start-ups survive long-term, they replenish the employment market, Kauffman's Robert Litan reports.

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Most of the jobs start-ups create remain as the fledgling companies age, creating a lasting effect on the economy, says a new study.

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation study – titled "After Inception: How Enduring is Job Creation by Start-ups?" – found that although only a fifth of start-ups make it to their 25th birthday, employment figures stayed at 68 percent of the initial number. It suggests the number of start-ups that flourish and create jobs balances the jobs lost by companies that close.

The study is based on Business Dynamics Statistics, which is compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau and tracks the number of new businesses from 1977 to 2005. The organization defines start-ups as businesses that are less than one year old.

Although start-ups' employment after five years is 80 percent of what it was when the companies began, many of those jobs remain long term. The study found that in the year 2000, start-ups created almost 3.1 million jobs. Only half of those firms survived to 2005, but the surviving firms maintained 78 percent, or more than 2.4 million, of the jobs that existed in 2000.

The study also analyzed entrepreneurship and employment during recessions. Companies starting up during recessions at first hired fewer employees than those started up at other times, but generally increased their hiring post-recession to catch up. But companies born during extended recessions – those lasting three years or more – created about 10 percent fewer jobs than companies that avoided a recession in their first five years. That's about .2 percent of all jobs in the economy. (To hear the Kauffman Foundation's take on why great companies tend to start during a recession, read this article.) 

"While a recession has a negative effect on a company's employment in its first few years, a recession does not impose lasting consequences on startups,' said Robert Litan, the study co-author, an Inc. contributing editor, and the foundation's vice president of research and policy, in a statement.

Last updated: Aug 13, 2010

Inc. contributing editor COURTNEY RUBIN was for five years a London-based staff writer for People magazine. Rubin, a former senior writer for Washingtonian magazine, has written for the New York Times magazine, Time, Marie Claire, and other publications. She is the author of The Weight-Loss Diaries.




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