New private business establishments (“startups”) are an important driver of employment and economic growth for Idaho as well as the nation. This short report follows up on startup activity in the state and finds continued growth in Idaho startups through 2020 with the startup and entrepreneurship rates above the national average and startup failure rates now on par with the national average. However, startups’ employment footprint has declined, driven by a trend towards smaller new establishments. Additionally, their employment footprint is uneven across industries, with various services, construction and retail trade accounting for almost 70% of total employment by startups in 2019. Moreover, the entrepreneurship rate is negatively correlated with the lagged startup failure rate, with a 10 percentage point reduction in the failure rate associated with two more startups per 1,000 of the civilian labor force. Relative to neighboring states except for Washington, Idaho continues to have higher startup and entrepreneurship rates and is second to Oregon in lowest startup failure rate as of 2018.
The number of startups in Idaho have steadily grown over the past three decades from an estimated 3,249 in 1994 to 6,526 in 2020, as shown in Figure 1. Startup activity is unsurprisingly pro-cyclical with the economy, as evidenced by the dip accompanying the 2001 recession and the large decline during the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Since reaching its recessionary trough in 2010, startups have grown at an average annual rate of 8.74%. (Note that since the reference period for the Business Employment Dynamics Survey is March, the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and recession was not captured in this time series.)