Number of the Day

Black Business Owners’ Pandemic Rebound, by the Numbers

The number of Black-owned businesses has rebounded from the pandemic, but we don’t know how well they’re doing

Photo illustration source: seksan Mongkhonsamai/Moment/Getty Images

1.1 million: That’s how many Black business owners there are in the U.S. as of September, which is 2% more than in February, and a sharp rebound from the early months of the pandemic, according to data presented by Bloomberg.

This is a surprising statistic, since Black-owned businesses were among the hardest hit by the pandemic. Many could not access the emergency loans provided by the PPP, and the number of Black business owners declined by 41% in April, which slowed to a 19% decline in June, but still double the decline in the number of White business owners.

So what explains the rapid rebound in the number of Black business owners? The data doesn’t have an answer, but consumers seeking out Black-owned businesses in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests this summer could be one contributing factor.

The statistic may also not be as positive a development as it seems. It says nothing about whether these businesses are making money. And given that Black unemployment remains at high levels, and has consistently been higher than the White unemployment rate during the pandemic, it may be that many of those new business owners have taken to entrepreneurship out of desperation.

Seems like a lot of people will find out if a pandemic is the best time to start a business.

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