The details of your local economy offers up valuable clues as to the work that you should be focusing on and the effectiveness of existing local entrepreneurship programs. It is, however, challenging to easily access reliable local data that is current. We first encountered YourEconomy.org (YE) while at a retreat for entrepreneur support organizations at the Edward Lowe Foundation. It is currently powered by the Institute for Business and Entrepreneurship at the University of Wisconsin.
Here’s what the YE easy-to-access data tells me about the change in our local jobs picture from 2017-2018. While Cheshire County, NH gained 338 jobs during that time period, only Stage 1 businesses with 2-9 employees had a net positive change, adding 929 jobs. The other categories, including Self-Employeed, Stage 2 (10-99), Stage 3 (200-499) and Stage 4 (500+) all lost more jobs during that time period than they gained, effectively lowering the net impact of the Stage 1 businesses on job creation.
New Startups contributed to 86% of the jobs gained in Cheshire County, Expansions 14% and companies moving in provided 0 jobs. Closings contributed to 84% of the jobs lost, contractions 15% and companies moving out contributed 1%.
For those of you who love data, this is enough to make your head explode as these super easy-to-access numbers help you explain what you are seeing and feeling in your local economy. You can also do the same detailed analysis for the types of businesses in your region (it turns out those Stage 1 businesses account for 70% of the businesses in Cheshire County while returning almost 3x the jobs of the other stages) and the tool also tells you where total revenues are coming from (those same Stage 1 businesses account for just 26% of the revenues). The data is also available from 2003 to present, so you can compare your current configuration to, for example, what it was pre-recession if you’d like. In 2006 the Stage 1 businesses were 68% of our total businesses and contributed 21% of the revenues.
You can also compare your county to the others in the state. We are 7 out of 10 in job creation, 7 out of 10 in job loss and 10 out of 10 in net change year over year. You can also compare your state to other states and to the US as a whole.
There are tools that can tell you total jobs, revenues and business creation, but the most valuable piece of the YE tool is that can show you clearly the detail of the business-size drivers of that for your community. It’s simple, but if you want the quick start instructions to understanding jobs in your county, here they are.
- Go to YourEconomy.org
- Select your state
- Select your county
- For this exercise, keep the time range on 2017-2018
- Click “GO”
- Click on “Jobs Gained” under performance indicators, a black arrow on the left will show you are there.
- Click on the turquoise Performance Indicator Details under Indicators on the left
- Print it out.
- Repeat with “Jobs Lost” and “Jobs Changed”.
This quick exercise will give you enough familiarity with the tool that you can dive into other aspects of your local economy. One thing we’ve learned from using YE over the years is how much the underlying composition and contributions of the different stages of business change over time. So don’t just go in once and assume you are done. Your economy is always changing in subtle ways, YE offers a great tool for even the most data challenged among us to stay closely tuned to those changes.