Business Formation in States


An interactive visualization of business formation in the states.

Business Formation Statistics (BFS) are a standard data product of the U.S. Census Bureau developed at the Center for Economic Studies in research collaboration with economists affiliated with Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, University of Maryland, and University of Notre Dame. BFS provide timely and high frequency information on new business applications and formations in the United States. The program’s page is here.

While the Census Bureau provides tables and visualizations, I’ve collected the data and present it as an interactive visualization with different views.

For monthly figures, data grouped by industry is available only for the nation, not individual states. So in this visualization, I include only the value for all industry sectors in total, not for individual industry sectors.

These are the meanings of the data series, with more details at Business Formation Statistics — About the Data:

  • Business Applications (BA), an application for an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
  • Actual and projected business formations originating from business applications based on the record of first payroll tax liability for an EIN.
  • Delay in business formation as indicated by the average duration between business application and business formation.

The Business Application Series contains four filtered series of EIN applications:

  • Business Applications (BA): The core business applications series corresponds to a subset of all EIN applications. BA includes all applications for an EIN except for a few types of organizations: certain financial filings, applications with no state-county geocodes, applications in farming or public administration that have low transition rates, and applications in certain industries (e.g. private households, civic and social organizations).
  • High-Propensity Business Applications (HBA): A subset of BA that contains all applications with a high propensity of turning into a business with payroll, based on various factors.
  • Business Applications with Planned Wages (WBA): A subset of HBA that contains all applications that indicate a planned date for paying wages.
  • Business Applications from Corporations (CBA): A subset of HBA that contains all applications from a corporation or a personal service corporation.

The Business Formation Series measures new employer firm births, the point when an application is realized and a business begins to operate. The Business Formations Series is available in two subsets, measuring from application to realizing the business paying wages within four and eight quarters.

  • Business Formations within 4 Quarters (BF4Q): The number of employer businesses originating from Business Applications within four quarters from the month of application.
  • Projected Business Formations within 4 Quarters (PBF4Q): The projected number of employer businesses originating from Business Applications within four quarters from the month of application.
  • Spliced Business Formations within 4 Quarters (SBF4Q): Combines BF4Q and PBF4Q to provide the entire time series for the actual and projected business formations within four quarters.

These data items repeat for periods of eight quarters.

I have an interactive visualization of this data. Click here.

A set of static charts follows. Click charts for larger versions.


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