Jul 13, 2023 - Business

New business applications in Portland dropped last year

Data: U.S. Census; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The Portland area had just over a dozen new business applications per 1,000 residents last year — a 3.6% drop from 2021, per new Census Bureau and IRS data.

Why it matters: New business applications are an important measure of an area's perceived economic health. If lots of people are trying to start new companies, it can be a sign that they're bullish on the area's prospects.

Zoom in: In the Portland area, Multnomah County led with the highest number of new applications — 11,502 — and the highest per capita at 14.5.

  • Washington County came in sixth statewide at 12.1 applications per capita and Clackamas took ninth place with 11.4.

Zoom out: Hood River County scored the highest number of new business applications per capita at 17.

  • Deschutes County — home to Bend — was right behind at 16.

What they're saying: In Oregon, "startup activity had clearly been trending down for decades leading up to the pandemic," Josh Lehner, an economic analyst with the state, recently wrote.

  • But even taking into account the drop last year, since the pandemic "new business formation has increased noticeably and appears to be sticking, at least so far," he wrote.

The big picture: Nationwide, just over 5 million new business applications were filed in 2022, or 15.1 for every 1,000 residents.

  • That's down about 6.6% from 2021, when nearly 5.4 million applications were filed nationwide, or 16.2 for every 1,000 residents.

Of note: Southeastern cities led the country, taking nine out of the top 10 spots for business applications per capita.

  • That's out of 108 metro areas with populations over 500,000.
  • Portland ranked 65th on that list.

Between the lines: Many of the hottest spots for new business applications also have booming populations.

  • That makes sense, as economic growth and population increases tend to go hand in hand.

Yes, but: A filed application is no guarantee of a healthy, thriving business to follow — but it's at least a sign of economic optimism.


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