The U.S. saw its largest ever decline in the number of business owners between February and April, as at least 3.3 million shut their doors, a new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research using the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey found.
What it means: The record wave of closures was widespread but disproportionately hit minority- and immigrant-owned firms, and "may portend longer-term ramifications for job losses and economic inequality," the study found.
- African American businesses were the hardest hit.
The big picture: "No other one-, two- or even 12-month window of time has ever shown such a large change in business activity," author Robert W. Fairlie writes.
- "For comparison, from the start to end of the Great Recession the number of business owners decreased by 730,000 representing only a 5 percent reduction."
- The reduction from February to April this year is more than four times that much.
What's next: "More permanent mass closures of small businesses in the United States are likely to have a dramatic effect on employee job losses, further income inequality, and contribute to a prolonged recession."
Go deeper: A reckoning for small business