U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy
First published November 2020
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses have varied by location. Data on location and self-employment are collected through the Current Population Survey and available through IPUMS. In April 2020, the number of people in metropolitan areas who were selfemployed and working was 21 percent lower than in April 2019, while the decrease was only 13 percent outside of metropolitan areas. The decline was especially severe in the New York City metropolitan area, the largest in the nation, where it reached 44 percent. Geographic differences in the impact of the pandemic may have contributed to the larger impact of the pandemic on Black business owners, since the proportion of business owners who are Black is higher in metropolitan areas and particularly high in the New York City area. The number of working self-employed people has since rebounded, with especially large gains in the New York City area, where in recent months it has been about the same as in 2019.