Small business is king

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In Idaho, “small” packs a mighty big punch.

That’s certainly true from an economic standpoint — a staggering 99.2 percent of all Idaho businesses are small business.

Those small businesses also represent more than half of the state’s employment, in number of workers employed.

In April the U.S. Small Business Administration released its 2019 Small Business Profiles by state. Using 2016-2018 data collected by the U.S. Census, U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Labor Statistics and FDIC, Idaho business is looking good — growing even faster than the country overall. The report’s highlights include:


99.2 percent of Idaho Businesses are small businesses

56.2 percent of workers are employed by small businesses

Overall Idaho economy

In the third quarter of 2018, Idaho grew at an annual rate of 3.9 percent — faster than the overall U.S. growth rate of 3.4 percent. Idaho’s 2017 growth rate of 2.4 percent was down from the 2016 rate of 3.7 percent.


In February 2019, the unemployment rate was 2.9 percent, down from 3.0 percent in February 2018. That’s below the February 2019 national unemployment rate of 3.8 percent.

Idaho small businesses employs 56.2 percent of the private workforce.

Firms with fewer than 100 employees have the largest share of small business employment.

The number of proprietors increased in 2017 by 1.8 percent relative to the previous year.

Small businesses created 14,998 net jobs in 2016. Firms employing fewer than 20 employees experienced the largest gains, adding 7,494 net jobs. The smallest gains were in firms employing 100 to 499 employees, which added 3,653 net jobs.

The median income for those self-employed at their own incorporated businesses was $41,775 in 2017. For individuals self-employed at unincorporated firms, this figure was $21,515.

Small businesses employment share by sector (figures represent the percentage of workers in each sector who work for small businesses):

Health care and social assistance — 67.9

Construction — 96.7

Retail — 45.9

Professional, scientific, and technical — 60.9

Administrative, support, and waste management — 43.4

Wholesale trade — 52.9

Transportation and warehousing — 60.6

Finance and insurance — 38.5

Arts, entertainment, and recreation — 81.2

Real estate, rental, and leasing — 85.4

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing/hunting — 80.6

Mining, quarrying, oil and gas — 56.8

Utilities — 22.4

One trend stood out for North Idaho, an area well known for its independent spirit: Self-employment. In the five northern counties, 10 to 22 percent (the highest measured) of workers are self-employed.

For more information see the report:

• • •

Sholeh Patrick is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network. Email:

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