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Showing signs of life

The latest figures are out, and the numbers show Bureau County residents and businesses are slowly recovering from the effects of the recession. On April 30, the Census Bureau released County Business Patterns: 2011, which provides the only detailed annual information on the number of establishments, employees, and first quarter and annual payroll for most of the 1,200 industries covered at the national, state and county levels.

There were 7.4 million U.S. businesses with paid employees for 2011, a loss of 42,585 establishments from 2010. This is the fourth consecutive year of decline for the number of U.S. businesses.

The good news came in terms of total employment.

In 2011, total employment from all U.S. business sectors was 113.4 million, an increase of 1.5 million employees from 2010. This year is the first since 2008 in which U.S. businesses reported an increase in employment over the prior year. Last year saw a decline of 2.5 million workers, which came on the heels of a 6.4 million decline the previous year.

The news was mixed locally. In 2011 in Bureau County, there were 772 businesses with paid employees, a decrease of 15 establishments from 2010. However, employment increased from 9,699 people working in 2010 to 9,818 in 2011, an increase of 117 employees. This followed a loss of 401 employees in 2010 and 503 in 209.

Locally, payroll showed a corresponding increase. In 2010, first quarter payroll was $81,970,000, and the annual payroll was $351,017,000. In 2011, first quarter payroll was $85,370,000, and the annual payroll was $351,326,000.

“The strength of this release is that we can measure the economic activity of businesses at the local level, including changes over time,” said William Bostic, the Census Bureau’s associate director for economic programs. “This year’s County Business Patterns report is the first since the most recent recession to show a reversal in the downward trend of employment. The growth in employment combined with the increase in annual payroll is another indication of a recovering economy.” 

Nationally, the retail trade sector had the highest number of establishments (1.1 million). Next were professional, scientific and technical services (850,903); health care and social assistance (818,726); other services (except public administration) (722,398); construction (657,738); and accommodation and food services (649,011).

In Bureau County, other services (except public administration) continued to have the largest number of establishments (123), only a decrease of one since 2010. Next was retail (103 establishments, down two.)

Health care and social assistance (82, up four) continued its upward spike, jumping from fifth to third place in the county. Accommodation and food services (79, down four) dropped to fourth place and construction (76, down six) dropped to fifth place.

Nationwide, construction continued showing the largest decline in establishments, losing 24,946 establishments (3.7 percent) in 2011, down to 657,738 overall. This followed a 4.2 percent decrease the previous year.

The report excludes data on self-employed individuals, employees of private households, railroad employees, agricultural production employees and most government employees.

County Business Patterns: 2011 defines employment as all full- and part-time employees who were on the payroll during the pay period that includes March 12, 2011.

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