The number of businesses with no paid employees grew from 17.6 million in 2002 to more than 18.6 million in 2003, a growth rate of 5.7 percent, according to a report issued today by the U.S. Census Bureau. This represents the biggest rate of increase in self-employment since the Census Bureau began releasing such statistics in 1997; the rate during the 2001 to 2002 period, 3.9 percent, was the previous high.

According to the report, Nonemployer Statistics: 2003, Nevada led the nation in the growth of these small businesses, with a 11.4 percent increase between 2002 and 2003. Arizona climbed from ninth place in 2002 to second place in 2003, with a 9.4 percent increase. Georgia’s rate of business growth, the third largest, was 8.9 percent. Texas and Florida had business growth of 8.1 percent and 7.0 percent, respectively, to round out the top-five states in nonemployer business growth. (See Table 1. [Excel])

     Nationally, these small businesses made up more than 70 percent of all businesses, with receipts nearing $830 billion.


  • Clark County had the highest number of nonemployer businesses of any county in Nevada: 95,923, with receipts totaling $5.3 billion. Businesses in real estate accounted for more than 25.2 percent of the total nonemployer receipts in Clark County.
  • Other counties with increases in nonemployer businesses included San Bernadino, Calif., 9.1 percent; Wayne, Mich., 6.2 percent; King, Wash., 5.5 percent; Montgomery, Md., 4.8 percent; Fairfax, Va., 4.7 percent; and Allegheny, Pa., 2.6 percent. (See Table 2. [Excel])
  • Among the nation’s most populous counties, Los Angeles, Calif., had 742,767 nonemployer businesses, with Cook, Ill., second at 340,548; followed by Harris, Texas, at 255,222.
  • Some examples of industries with impressive nonemployer business growth are real estate appraisers, 19.1 percent; nail salons, 15.9 percent; landscape architectural services, 14.6 percent; software publishers, 14.4 percent; clothing accessories stores, 12.9 percent; bed and breakfast inns, 8.5 percent; carpet and upholstery cleaning services, 7.5 percent; and confectionery and nut stores, 6.5 percent.
  • Four economic sectors accounted for almost 60 percent of nonemployer receipts — real estate and rental and leasing ($176.0 billion, or 21.2 percent); construction ($126.4 billion, or 15.2 percent); professional, scientific and technical services ($102.9 billion, or 12.4 percent) and retail trade ($80.5 billion, or 9.7 percent).
     The report has data on 16.2 million individual proprietorships, more than 1.2 million corporations and l.2 million partnerships. Nonemployer firms may be run by one or more individuals, can range from home-based businesses to corner stores or construction contractors and often are part-time ventures with owners operating more than one business at a time.

     The detailed Internet tables show the number of establishments and receipts in nearly 300 industries for the United States, states, counties and metropolitan areas. The data do not cover all self-employed individuals, since many self-employed business owners have paid employees.

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