Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Small businesses play big role in WA

Washington state is known for world-leading companies like Boeing, Microsoft and Starbucks – but it’s also home to 532,162 small businesses, which employ more than half of our state’s workforce.

Those are the latest numbers coming out of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Most small businesses are quite small, with the majority – 389,308 – being one-person shops, such as self-employed plumbers or lawyers.

The SBA says self-employment is a new trend in our state, and that “Female self-employment fared the best compared with other demographic groups during the decade.”
Small businesses employed 1.3 million workers out of a total private sector employment of about 2.3 million.
To wade in all sorts of economic data, click here for our state’s two-page profile.

The SBA numbers also provide a snapshot of Washington’s economy as a whole, breaking down the total number of jobs – in businesses big or small – by industry, with the exception of farms. (Why not farms? Nobody knows. It’s an economist thing.)

Here are the biggest sectors by number of total workers:
Health care & social assistance
Retail trade
Hotels & restaurants
Professional, scientific, & technical services
Wholesale trade

Pretty safe guess that “Manufacturing” includes airplanes and that a good chunk of those workers in “Information” are employed in the Silicon Forest east of Seattle.
Our state has traditionally been a great place for businesses of all sorts. We are Number 1 in Exports per Capita, Number 2 in the New Economy Index 2010, Number 3 in the Bureau of Business Research’s 2011 State Entrepreneurship Index, and Number 2 in Money Rates; Best States to Make A Living 2011.

Not too shabby.

To read this story in Spanish, please click here.