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Posts tagged: Regional economy

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.

Study says Spokane gained 5,000 solo business owners in six years

This being labor day, two SR writers (Tom Sowa and Scott Maben) produced a story running Sunday that looks at what the local economy offers for job growth.

One piece of information that popped up in the research was a report on the number of business sole proprietors in the local economy.

That's not a number the federal or state economists regularly track. But Gary Smith, who runs a site called the Pacific Northwest Regional Economic Analysis Project (PNREAP) has done some data-gathering and has some numbers worth considering.

Smith has been a regional economist with Washington State University. We tried to reach him to look at the method used in gathering these numbers. We didn't connect. But we will follow up after Labor Day. His site cites the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis.

His numbers say: in 2006 Spokane County had 46,200 sole business proprietors — people who were a one-person business or one so small that it didn't pay payroll taxes to the state. Of those 2,000 were in the farm or food industry.

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.  Of those, 2,300 are in farming, according to the data he's collected.

That's a net gain since 2006 of almost 5,000 more people running a sole proprietorship.  It's not clear if those are people who also qualify as part time or full time workers for another company.

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

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John Stucke John Stucke is a deputy city editor who helps build local news coverage and writes about health care, bankruptcy and rural affairs.

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Alison Boggs Online Producer Alison Boggs posts and manages content on and its social networking accounts.

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Scott Maben Scott Maben is a Deputy City Editor who covers North Idaho news and higher education.

Addy Hatch is the city editor, and formerly was business editor.

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