Boomers lead pack in business creation

The new face of innovation has a few wrinkles.

Forget the idea that young bucks in Silicon Valley create all the new companies. According to a study by the Kauffman Foundation, older entrepreneurs start more businesses than any other age category.

“Contrary to popular belief, research shows that since 1996, Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 have had a higher rate of entrepreneurial activity than those aged 20-34,” study authors said. “With many in this age bracket reaching retirement, but still wanting to work, entrepreneurship is an increasingly popular choice.”

Boomers represent 20.9% of new entrepreneurs, up from 14.3% in 1996.

The study suggests a couple of reasons for the trend. One is that baby boomers have the time and the disposable income to start new businesses. The other is that boomers seem to be more optimistic about the future.

Florida ranks among the highest states for entrepreneurial activity, Kauffman reports, with residents creating a little fewer than 400 ventures per 100,000 adults. In 2011, an average of 0.32% of the adult population, or 320 out of 100,000 adults, created a new business each month. That rate translates into about 543,000 new businesses being created each month last year.

The average number of existing self-employed business owners in 2011 totaled 11.5 million, or 6.3% of the adult population. Although the entrepreneurship rate declined in 2011, it remained higher than before the start of the Great Recession, which officially dates from December 2007.