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Despite job losses, foreclosures, and big bank bailouts, the economic downturn still couldn’t suppress the American entrepreneurial spirit. As the economy continues to recover from the recession, a recent report from Babson College and Baruch College, indicates that entrepreneurship increased more than 60% in 2011, the highest levels since 2005.

The 2011 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor U.S. Report surveyed nearly 6,000 American adults, and showed that 29 million people were running or starting a new business in 2011. Though many of these new businesses are small, they are adding jobs to the still struggling economy. The report showed that at least 40% of the new businesses plan to add at least five new jobs in the next five years.

This is a substantial rebound from 2010 and 2009, which saw significant declines in entrepreneurship. In a comparison of 54 developed global economies, the U.S outpaced all other surveyed countries in total entrepreneurship activity (TEA). Nascent entrepreneurship, or emerging businesses that are still under development, nearly doubled from 2010 to 2011, the first increase since the 2008 economic crash. Entrepreneurial intentions saw a 30% boost in 2011, after remaining stagnant for the previous two years.

“We saw an unprecedented jump in entrepreneurial activity in 2011,” Donna J. Kelley, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at Babson College, and the report’s lead author, said in a press release. “In the depths of the recession, we saw a tremendous increase in people starting businesses out of necessity. In 2011, the entrepreneurship rate was pulled up primarily by those starting businesses to pursue promising opportunities – a strong sign of entrepreneurial activity occurring as a result of optimism, not desperation.”


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The study’s demographics indicate that men entrepreneurs still outnumber women, with eight women to every 10 men, but the gender gap is narrowing. A loot at ethnicity shows there were twice as many black entrepreneurs than white entrepreneurs in 2011. Younger adults ages 18-24 took the lead in creating new businesses over older generations, but there was a 10% increase in entrepreneurship among the 55-64 age range.

There was a significant correlation between education levels and the likelihood of launching a business. College graduates were twice as likely to become entrepreneurs than those with a high school education. Students are increasingly turning to online MBA programs with concentrations in entrepreneurship
to further equip them with skills and knowledge to launch their own business.

Babson College offers a 21-month, fast-track blended MBA program that combines online learning with face-to-face sessions. Students are required to complete two, five-day sessions on the campus in Wellesley, Mass. , at the beginning and end of the program. IN addition to courses on entrepreneurship, Babson’s Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) is the largest single study of entrepreneurial activity in the world. Babson also offers bootcamps and custom entrepreneurship programs.

Follow Elise Rambaud Marrion on Twitter @elisermarrion.