When it comes to entrepreneurship, the jury is hung.
The studies and statistics are split. You can find data to support that entrepreneurship is on the rise or on the decline.
The Atlantic explains entrepreneurship is flailing in America.
Gallup reports new businesses are in decline.
Editor-at-large at Inc., Leigh Buchanan, wrote that American entrepreneurship is dying a slow death, and FiveThirtyEight concurs.
Economists writing for TechCrunch wrote that it depends on how you read the data. The quality of entrepreneurship is going up, but the quantity is going down.
One American serial entrepreneur, Brandon Smith, deduced from the studies in a recent blog post that American entrepreneurship is plummeting towards an "ice age" for four reasons:
"Millennials can't afford to be entrepreneurial due to crippling school debt."
"The over-glamorization of entrepreneurship is deceptive and leads to discouragement."
"Corporations are buying up opportunities to innovate, leaving the individual entrepreneur empty-handed."
"Automation and globalization are erasing traditional American entrepreneurship."
But Fortune, Washington Examiner, and others take an opposite stance, saying that entrepreneurship is on the rise.
It turns out the harbingers heralding the doom of American entrepreneurship are pulling from an outdated data set. They weren't wrong, nor were the studies they cited incorrect; they were just quoting older studies.
Since 2011-2012, newer studies have been published and tell a different story. The 2016 Kauffman Index shows 2014 as the bottom trough of Startup Activity in the United States but a rocket-ship upwards trajectory since then. Here's an excerpt from the 2016 report:
Nearly two-thirds of U.S. states had an increase in new businesses last year, as did a majority of the metropolitan areas studied by the Kauffman Foundation.
Thirty states saw gains in business startups, with larger states showing the biggest increases. The top five were Texas, Florida, California, New York and Colorado. Eleven smaller states saw a decline in new companies.
Twenty-three out of the 40 metro areas tracked by the foundation also showed gains. The areas with the highest number of new companies were Austin, Texas; Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas.
This latest study presents the largest year-over-year increase in startup growth in the past two decades and a reversal of a five-year downward trend in the United States.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics corroborates the Kauffman Foundation's latest data, and the US Census Bureau, while still only displaying data up to 2014, seems to be lining up to tell a similar story.
The lesson here is that the outlook on American entrepreneurship is changing from grim to great, from troubled to positive, and that the economy for new entrepreneurs, is more fertile than the fallout years of the Great Recession.
Smith states that three factors contributed to this reversal of the threat to American entrepreneurship and if the United States wants to see the increase in startup activity continue, he encourages the cultivation of three areas.
Focus education on automation and globalization. Rather than blame these trends for robbing business opportunities, our education should teach students to leverage them to solve bigger problems.
Reinstate strong mentorship and apprenticeship programs. Without mentorship, Smith writes that tomorrow's leaders will guide us to further the status quo instead of embolden us to upend it.
Two takeaways: take note of the publish dates of studies upon which you base your conclusions before you make them. Seeing that American entrepreneurship is beginning to bustle again, our entrenched educational system will need to adapt to changes in our rapidly innovating economy.