Office Hours

A second take on why Spokane saw a big surge in solo business owners

Time to clarify our earlier post about the number of possible new solo business owners in Spokane County.

That post, published here last week, said one study suggests 5,000 new solo businesses started in Spokane since 2006.

Today we spoke with Gary Smith, the retired WSU economist who runs the NWREAP site, where we spotted that number. Dr. Smith helped explain a few points he views differently than we do.

First, we hamfistedly said in our headline the growth of 5,000 jobs occurred over six years. It was really over FOUR years, covering 2006 to 2010.

Smith also took some exception to the following paragraph that interpreted the number of proprietors in Spokane since 2006. The 2006 number was 46,200 business proprietors, based on data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

We wrote: In 2010, as the recession has pushed many people out of traditional workplaces, Smith's numbers say Spokane's proprietor group has grown to 51,016.

Dr. Smith said he doesn't agree that the economy's downturn spurred this growth. He said the actual big upswing in proprietorships occurred exactly in 2006 and 2007 and generally stayed there through 2010, the last year the BEA has numbers for.

If anything, he contends the upswing in sole proprietors stems from the strong economy in 2006 and 2007, before the economy tanked.

If that's so, the next numbers that BEA come up with, for 2011, should show a drop from 2010's level. Those numbers will be out in November. We'll look at them and see if that's the case.

If they don't go down, we'll call it a victory for our team.

Stay tuned.

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The Spokesman-Review business team follows economic development in Spokane and the Inland Northwest.



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