Reader Micah Choquette asked on Twitter:
This is a tough question, because most small towns lack this kind of basic economic data. Two online resources can help, though they aren’t perfect.
YourEconomy includes county level data including establishments (businesses, etc.) and jobs. Start with the Composition and Growth tab. I checked out my home county: Woods County, Oklahoma. Because the data only goes through 2009, it doesn’t show the current oil boom growth going on.
Try clicking on either graph to see more details. And if you notice in the bottom left corner, there are links for Composition, Time Series, and Comparison. Try those out to see more detail on your county.
Watch for the links that say “How to get the most out of this page.” They open useful explanations.
If you’re in a big enough town to be a Metropolitan Statistical Area (most small towns aren’t), you can find out rankings and more details on the Rankings tab.
SizeUp has business intelligence by industry and by town. Sometimes, there is not enough data for a report on a small town, so it will take a bit of experimenting to get results. Try a nearby bigger town, for example. Since Alva, Oklahoma, may not have enough data, I’ll use Woodward, Oklahoma, which is nearby and more than twice our size, but similar enough to be helpful.
SizeUp also includes some fascinating consumer expenditure data. Example: How much do Woodward County residents spend on whiskey consumed at home?
I found both of these through smart guy Dave Shideler, curator of Oklahoma Extension Development Resources.
Where do you go for numbers on your local economy?
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.