From 2019 until the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020, Connecticut had an average of 2,817 new business applications per month, according to U.S. Census data.
And there wasn’t a lot of variation. The lowest monthly amount was just under 2,500 and the amount never went higher than 2,980.
A month after the pandemic was declared, however, applications fell to just below 2,000, the lowest amount in almost two decades.
But then, applications spiked — and rested at a level far above pre-pandemic numbers.
July 2020 and January 2021 broke all-time highs, with more than 4,300 new business applications in each of the months.
Following that peak, the numbers stabilized to a monthly amount higher than the pre-pandemic average. The number of monthly applications after January 2021 until March 2023 remained no lower than 3,500 and had an average of 3,812 applications per month.
Two key players in the business and startup industries say that layoffs, financial support and the increased ability to connect online are partially driving the rise in entrepreneurship.
"The uptick in everyone's awareness and ability to navigate connecting online has opened up possibilities of having a more online-based business," said Sarah Bodley, executive director at reSET, an organization dedicatated to supporting social entreprenuership through incubators, accelerators and mentorship. "I see yoga teachers that are all of a sudden teaching people all over the world because they can do that in Zoom."
Bodley also said that the job market is causing some people to start their own business.
"We've had more people who have been laid off, or furloughed, or couldn't find work during COVID, who thought, 'Well I've been sitting on this idea for a while, maybe now is the time.' That's the story I've heard multiple times from folks," said Bodley.
Chris DiPentima, president and chief executive officer of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said that a declining workforce with people retiring or people leaving their jobs is also driving the rise.
"COVID made us all reflect a little about, 'Are we doing something that we love? Are we doing something that we think is meaningful and impactful on the world?" said DiPentima.
Read more: How Connecticut changed during COVID, in 10 charts