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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

May 13, 2013 at 11:32 AM

How states and counties stack up in businesses

The Census Bureau has a nifty interactive map on business patterns at the state and county level, based on its latest survey (2011) released in April. It allows for some interesting compare-and-contrast. For example, Washington is only slightly more populous than Arizona (6.9 million vs. 6.6 million), yet we are home to 173,511 businesses vs. 130,305 for the Grand Canyon State. Arizona also trails less populous Colorado (150,889).

So what accounts for the difference? At least in the Washington vs. Arizona match up, I suspect it has a great deal to do with the large headquarters and successful clusters in aerospace, software and biotech/biomedical. The former provides sizable mother ships that support many small-business vendors, while the latter produces a culture of genuine (as opposed to the buzzword) innovation and startups, both at critical-mass levels so growth and reinvention happen. The Seattle area also draws a very high level of college graduates. Arizona has nothing to compare.

The “fun facts” mostly involve the most populous states and counties (e.g., most auto repair outlets, California; most convenience stores, Texas). King County does rank third with the most day care centers (870) after LA County and Chicago’s Cook County. King County ranked No. 8 in full-service restaurants and No. 9 in real-estate businesses. A shocking failure: King County didn’t make the list of top 10 in number of bars. It hasn’t been for my lack of patronage.

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Today’s Econ Haiku:

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