Entrepreneurship in the U.S. is showing signs of a comeback, with the number of companies being launched up for the second straight year.
That's the finding of the Kauffman Foundation's annual report on startup activity. Kauffman's index tracking startups stands at 0.38 for 2016; the index registered at minus 0.33 in 2015 and minus 0.95 in 2014. Its last positive reading was in 2010, when it stood at 0.08. The figures compare to a baseline of zero when Kauffman began tracking entrepreneurship in 1996.
The Great Recession took a heavy toll on startups, with entrepreneurs either cautious or unable to get investor or loan money to start companies. The slow recovery in startups matches the slow expansion of small businesses — their hiring levels have fluctuated as economic growth has remained weak.
The report also looks at how the demographic makeup of new entrepreneurs has changed over two decades. They've become a more diverse group, with nearly 40 percent either black, Hispanic, Asian or belonging to other ethnic groups in 2015. Hispanics made up more than a fifth of new entrepreneurs, more than double the 10 percent they comprised in 1996.
New company owners also tend to be older. Just under half of new owners last year were 45 or older, compared with about 38 percent 20 years ago.
The number of new women entrepreneurs was down from 1996, falling to 40.6 percent from 43.7 percent. However, women started companies at a faster rate than they were in 2014.
Kauffman conducts research into entrepreneurship and education.
BORROWING PICKS UP
Small businesses took out more loans and leases during June, but their borrowing levels are still down from a year ago, according to Thomson Reuters and PayNet. The two companies' Small Business Lending Index rose 6 percent to 138.9 in June from May's 131.1. The index was 5 percent lower than in June 2015. It is compiled from borrowing activity among small businesses in PayNet's database; the company issues business credit ratings.
The index has fluctuated for more than a year, a sign of small business owners' continuing caution. Construction companies, for example, increased their borrowing by 8 percent in June, but that was down from a gain of 9.2 percent in May.
Small business owners who want to step up their online marketing may want to consider blogging, and also taking steps to be sure their companies are prominent in internet searches. SCORE, which offers free counseling to small businesses, is holding online seminars on each topic.
The blogging seminar will be Tuesday, Aug. 23 at 1 p.m. Eastern time. Learn more and register at http://tinyurl.com/glvjk62
The internet search seminar will be Thursday, Aug. 25 at 1 p.m. Eastern time. Learn more and register at http://tinyurl.com/gw7xzcu
Follow Joyce Rosenberg at www.twitter.com/JoyceMRosenberg . Her work can be found here: http://bigstory.ap.org/content/joyce-m-rosenberg