Visualizing America's Entrepreneurial Spirit During COVID-19
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Visualizing America’s Entrepreneurial Spirit During COVID-19

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Mapped: America’s Entrepreneurial Spirit During COVID-19

Despite the risks of opening a business during a global pandemic, new data from the U.S. Census Bureau reveals that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the United States.

In total, there were 492,133 new business applications in January 2021—an increase of over 73% year-over-year (YoY).

The region with the highest growth rate was the South at 84% with more than 220,000 new business applications in the region in January of this year. Mississippi had the highest percent increase at 164%, with over 6,000 new applications in January 2021.

Here’s a closer look at the number of total applications by state and region:

Notably, new business applications have soared in the last month or so, bouncing back from a dip between July and December 2020.

The growth rate from December 2020 to January 2021 stood at 42.6%, with the biggest change happening in the Midwest, where applications have gone up 48.6%. Here’s a look at the biggest changes in applications by region since December 2020:

RegionNumber of Applications in January 2021Percentage Change from December 2020
Midwest85,50348.6%
Northeast 77,91047.9%
West103,86140.5%
South 224,85939.6%

Note: Business applications are measured by collecting data on new applications for Employer Identification Numbers with the U.S. government.

Opportunity Out of Crisis

Prior to the pandemic, new business startups were actually on the decline, but in times of crisis there is often opportunity.

People have become wildly innovative during COVID-19, partly because they were forced to do so due to job or income loss. Economists call this ‘creative destruction,’ wherein new innovation springs up because of the failure of particular industries or businesses.

Here’s a look at new business applications by industry.

IndustryNumber of New Business Applications (Jan. 2021)
Retail Trade101,842
Professional Services56,280
Construction43,724
Other Services43,511
Transportation and Warehousing 41,320
Administrative Support32,765
Accommodation and Food Services27,409
Health Care and Social Assistance 27,266
Real Estate23,804
Finance and Insurance22,607
Arts and Entertainment14,407
Unclassified 13,442
Wholesale Trade10,298
Information9,907
Manufacturing7,420
Educational Services6,790
Management of Companies 4,273
Agriculture3,978
Mining585
Utilities505

Creative destruction has been keenly exemplified in the rise of remote and digital services over traditional brick and mortar stores. In fact, the industry with the highest number of new business applications in January 2021 was retail services, mostly online, with over 101,000 applications.

Feeling the Entrepreneurial Spirit?

As business applications are on the rise, more jobs could potentially be created in the U.S., and competition will likely increase as well. While starting a business during COVID-19 is risky, it could have immense payoffs for the individuals involved and the overall economy.

In fact, a piece from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce actually recommends specific business ideas that are ‘pandemic-friendly.’ Among many virtually-based ideas, the list includes:

  • Digital marketing
  • App development
  • Fitness and wellness services
  • Box subscription services

Perhaps, for digitally minded entrepreneurs, there has never been a better time to start a business.

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30 Years of Gun Manufacturing in America

The U.S. has produced nearly 170 million firearms over the past three decades. Here are the numbers behind America’s gun manufacturing sector.

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30 Years of Gun Manufacturing in America

While gun sales have been brisk in recent years, the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 was a boon for the gun industry.

From 2010-2019, an average of 13 million guns were sold legally in the U.S. each year. In 2020 and 2021, annual gun sales sharply increased to 20 million.

While the U.S. does import millions of weapons each year, a large amount of firearms sold in the country were produced domestically. Let’s dig into the data behind the multi-billion dollar gun manufacturing industry in America.

Gun Manufacturing in the United States

According to a recent report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the U.S. has produced nearly 170 million firearms over the past three decades, with production increasing sharply in recent years.

firearms per 100000 persons

America’s gunmakers produce a wide variety of firearms, but they’re generally grouped into five categories; pistols, rifles, shotguns, revolvers, and everything else.

Below is a breakdown of firearms manufactured in the country over the past 30 years, by type:

Year     PistolsRiflesRevolversShotgunsMisc. FirearmsTotal Firearms
19891,404,7531,407,400628,573935,54142,1264,418,393
19901,371,4271,211,664470,495848,94857,4343,959,968
19911,378,252883,482456,966828,42615,9803,563,106
19921,669,5371,001,833469,4131,018,20416,8494,175,836
19932,093,3621,173,694562,2921,144,94081,3495,055,637
19942,004,2981,316,607586,4501,254,92610,9365,173,217
19951,195,2841,411,120527,6641,173,6458,6294,316,342
1996987,5281,424,315498,944925,73217,9203,854,439
19971,036,0771,251,341370,428915,97819,6803,593,504
1998960,3651,535,690324,390868,63924,5063,713,590
1999995,4461,569,685335,7841,106,99539,8374,047,747
2000962,9011,583,042318,960898,44230,1963,793,541
2001626,8361,284,554320,143679,81321,3092,932,655
2002741,5141,515,286347,070741,32521,7003,366,895
2003811,6601,430,324309,364726,07830,9783,308,404
2004728,5111,325,138294,099731,76919,5083,099,025
2005803,4251,431,372274,205709,31323,1793,241,494
20061,021,2601,496,505385,069714,61835,8723,653,324
20071,219,6641,610,923391,334645,23155,4613,922,613
20081,609,3811,734,536431,753630,71092,5644,498,944
20091,868,2582,248,851547,195752,699138,8155,555,818
20102,258,4501,830,556558,927743,37867,9295,459,240
20112,598,1332,318,088572,857862,401190,4076,541,886
20123,487,8833,168,206667,357949,010306,1548,578,610
20134,441,7263,979,570725,2821,203,072495,14210,844,792
20143,633,4543,379,549744,047935,411358,1659,050,626
20153,557,1993,691,799885,259777,273447,1319,358,661
20164,720,0754,239,335856,291848,617833,12311,497,441
20173,691,0102,504,092720,917653,139758,6348,327,792
20183,881,1582,880,536664,835536,1261,089,9739,052,628
20193,046,0131,957,667580,601480,735946,9297,011,945
Total60,804,84059,796,76015,826,96426,241,1346,298,415168,968,113

Pistols (36%) and rifles (35%) are the dominant categories, and over time, the former has become the most commonly produced firearm type.

In 2001, pistols accounted for 21% of firearms produced. Today, nearly half of all firearms produced are pistols.

Who is Producing America’s Firearms?

There are a wide variety of firearm manufacturing companies in the U.S., but production is dominated by a few key players.

Here are the top 10 gunmakers in America, which collectively make up 70% of production:

RankFirearm ManufacturerGuns Produced (2016-2020)Share of total
1Smith & Wesson Corp8,218,19917.2%
2Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc8,166,44817.1%
3Sig Sauer Inc3,660,6297.7%
4Freedom Group3,045,4276.4%
50 F Mossberg & Sons Inc2,223,2414.7%
6Taurus International Manufacturing1,996,1214.2%
7WM C Anderson Inc1,816,6253.8%
8Glock Inc1,510,4373.2%
9Henry RAC Holding Corp1,378,5442.9%
10JIE Capital Holdings / Enterprises1,258,9692.6%
Total33,274,64069.7%

One-third of production comes from two publicly-traded parent companies: Smith & Wesson (NASDAQ: SWBI), and Sturm, Ruger & Co. (NYSE: RGR)

Some of these players are especially dominant within certain types of firearms. For example:

  • 58% of pistols were made by Smith & Wesson, Ruger, and SIG SAUER (2008–2018)
  • 45% of rifles were made by Remington*, Ruger, and Smith & Wesson (2008–2018)

*In 2020, Remington filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and its assets were divided and sold to various buyers. The Remington brand name is now owned by Vista Outdoor (NYSE: VSTO)

The Geography of Gun Manufacturing

Companies that manufacture guns hold a Type 07 license from the ATF. As of 2020, there are more than 16,000 Type 07 licensees across the United States.

Below is a state-level look at where the country’s licensees are located:

StateLicenses (2000)Licenses (2020)PopulationLicenses per 100,000 pop. (2020)
Alaska8117733,39116.0
Alabama402765,039,8775.5
Arkansas283023,011,52410.0
Arizona1009597,276,31613.2
California15962039,237,8361.6
Colorado274815,812,0698.3
Connecticut711943,605,9445.4
Delaware010989,9481.0
Florida1311,00921,781,1284.6
Georgia5251010,799,5664.7
Hawaii0111,455,2710.8
Iowa111873,190,3695.9
Idaho383581,839,10619.5
Illinois4026312,671,4692.1
Indiana392806,805,9854.1
Kansas172292,937,8807.8
Kentucky222114,505,8364.7
Louisiana202584,657,7575.5
Massachusetts672636,984,7233.8
Maryland361466,165,1292.4
Maine131071,362,3597.9
Michigan4338610,050,8113.8
Minnesota632545,707,3904.5
Missouri624016,168,1876.5
Mississippi121902,961,2796.4
Montana242401,084,22522.1
North Carolina5262810,551,1626.0
North Dakota346779,0945.9
Nebraska15911,961,5044.6
New Hampshire251881,377,52913.6
New Jersey10269,267,1300.3
New Mexico181792,117,5228.5
Nevada452763,104,6148.9
New York3529919,835,9131.5
Ohio8064411,780,0175.5
Oklahoma374233,959,35310.7
Oregon552264,237,2565.3
Pennsylvania8751912,964,0564.0
Rhode Island1201,097,3791.8
South Carolina252845,190,7055.5
South Dakota1479886,6678.9
Tennessee763526,975,2185.0
Texas1502,02229,527,9416.8
Utah334783,271,61614.6
Virginia484128,642,2744.8
Vermont1585643,07713.2
Washington493517,738,6924.5
Wisconsin383065,895,9085.2
West Virginia201151,793,7166.4
Wyoming20147576,85125.5

These manufacturers are located all around the country, so these numbers are somewhat reflective of population. Unsurprisingly, large states like Texas and Florida have the most licensees.

Sorting by the number of licensees per 100,000 people offers a different point of view. By this measure, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho come out on top.

If recent sales and production trends are any indication, these numbers may only continue to grow.

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The World’s Largest Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

Real estate investment trusts (REITS) are a simple alternative for investors looking to gain exposure to real estate.

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The World’s Largest Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

Real estate is widely regarded as an attractive asset class for investors.

This is because it offers several benefits like diversification (due to less correlation with stocks), monthly income, and protection from inflation. The latter is known as “inflation hedging”, and stems from real estate’s tendency to appreciate during periods of rising prices.

Affordability, of course, is a major barrier to investing in most real estate. Property markets around the world have reached bubble territory, making it incredibly difficult for people to get their foot in the door.

Thankfully, there are easier ways of gaining exposure. One of these is purchasing shares in a real estate investment trust (REIT), a type of company that owns and operates income-producing real estate, and is most often publicly-traded.

What Qualifies as REIT?

To qualify as a REIT in the U.S., a company must meet several criteria:

  • Invest at least 75% of assets in real estate, cash , or U.S. Treasuries
  • Derive at least 75% of gross income from rents, interest on mortgages, or real estate sales
  • Pay at least 90% of taxable income in the form of shareholder dividends
  • Be a taxable corporation
  • Be managed by a board of directors or trustees
  • Have at least 100 shareholders after one year of operations
  • Have no more than half its shares held by five or fewer people

Investing in a REIT is similar to purchasing shares of any other publicly-traded company. There are also exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and mutual funds which may hold a basket of REITs. Lastly, note that some REITs are private, meaning they aren’t traded on stock exchanges.

The Top 10 by Market Cap

Here are the world’s 10 largest publicly-traded REITs, as of March 25, 2022.

REITMarket CapDividend YieldProperty Type
Prologis (NYSE: PLD)$116.4B2.03%Industrial
American Tower (NYSE: AMT)$109.8B2.38%Communications
Crown Castle (NYSE: CCI$76.8B3.35%Communications
Public Storage (NYSE: PSA)$65.9B2.14%Self-storage
Equinix (NYSE: EQIX)$64.4B1.74%Data centers 
Simon Property Group (NYSE: SPG)$48.9B5.07%Malls
Welltower (NYSE: WELL)$43.0B2.58%Healthcare
Digital Realty (NYSE: DLR)$40.1B3.55%Data centers
Realty Income (NYSE: O)$40.1B4.44%Commercial
AvalonBay Communities (NYSE: AVB)$34.6B2.62%Residential

As shown above, REITs focus on different sectors of the market. Understanding their differences is an important step to consider before making an investment.

For example, Prologis manages the world’s largest portfolio of logistics real estate. This includes warehouses, distribution centers, and other supply chain facilities around the globe. It’s reasonable to assume that this REIT would benefit from further growth in ecommerce—more on this near the end.

Realty Income, on the other hand, owns a portfolio of over 11,100 commercial real estate properties in the U.S. and Europe. It rents these properties out to major brands like Walgreens and 7-Eleven, which together account for 8.1% of the REIT’s annual income.

More Than Just Buildings

Cell towers and data centers may not seem like “real estate”, but they are both critical pieces of modern infrastructure that take up land.

REITs that focus on these sectors include American Tower and Crown Castle, which own wireless communications assets in the U.S. and abroad. They are likely to benefit from the increased adoption of 5G networks and the Internet of Things (IoT).

On the other hand, Equinix and Digital Realty are focused on data centers, a fast growing industry that is benefitting from digitalization. Both of these REITs work with major tech firms such as Amazon and Google.

Trends to Watch

The demand for real estate can be heavily influenced by overarching trends found around the world. One of these is population growth and urbanization, which has drastically pushed up the cost of housing in many cities around the world.

There’s also the rising prevalence of ecommerce, which has triggered a boom in demand for warehouse space. This is best captured by Amazon’s massive growth during the COVID-19 pandemic, during which the company doubled the number of its warehouse facilities.

Globally, ecommerce accounts for just 19.6% of total retail sales. Should that figure continue to rise, industrial real estate prices could be in store for robust, long-term growth.

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