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Optimism Grows for Startups

Americans were more optimistic about starting a business in 2013 than in any year since 2001, according to an entrepreneurship survey released Wednesday.

Forty-seven percent of 5,698 U.S. adults polled between April and June of last year said that there were “good opportunities” for launching a new venture.

That is up from 43% of 5,542 who were surveyed in 2012, and 25% of those surveyed in 2006, according to the so-called Global Entrepreneurship Monitor.

The report also found that new business creation has increased since the recession: Nearly 13% of the respondents in 2013 said they were starting or working on a new business, about the same as in 2012 and 2011, but up from just 8% in 2009 and 2010.

Stephen Bronars, an economist in Washington, D.C., says people are more likely to launch and keep businesses during healthier economic times because they tend to have greater access to capital, whether from a bank, angel investor or from family members.

“There’s no doubt that in the midst of the downturn the credit markets were frozen, so to the extent that it’s easier to get funding that will benefit startup creation,” Mr. Bronars says.

The survey findings conflict with a report released in April of this year, showing a decline in new business creation within the U.S.

That study, by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a Kansas City, Mo., advocacy group for entrepreneurship, is based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Labor Department, and it found that only about 476,000 new U.S. businesses were started each month in 2013, down 7% from 2012 and 12% from 2011.

Kauffman researchers said previously that the decline they measured had to do with the lower numbers of “new entrepreneurs coming out of unemployment” or “necessity-driven entrepreneurs” who are driven to start businesses because they can’t find jobs.

David Neumark, professor of economics at the University of California, Irvine, says it “can be very difficult to measure” when a business starts using census data and other government sources. A shortcoming is that, in some cases, people may not report income taxes because their ventures aren’t yet making any money.

At the same time, survey responses can differ, depending on how respondents define a startup, Mr. Bronars says. For example, some people may not consider ventures as true startups until those businesses start making money.

June 18, 2014

By Sarah E. Needleman

Write to Sarah E. Needleman at

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