Over the weekend, Center for Entrepreneurship Director John Bradley Jackson headlined an all day workshop for a group of visiting Chinese businesspeople. It was an educational experience for all those in attendance as they learned about how entrepreneurial Orange County is through Director Jackson’s workshop as well as through a visit to the FastStart.studio business incubator. We hope to have pictures of that shortly but, for our purposes right now, I’d like to go over some of the business statistics that Director Jackson presented to our distinguished guests.
What follows are four charts about the state of the economy in Orange County from 1998 through 2011. All of this data can be found on the Census website’s County Business Patterns page. Please click on the graphs below to make them larger for easier viewing.
Total Establishments in Orange County, CA
By looking at the chart it is fairly easy to see that Orange County, at least as of 2011, has not recovered from the most recent recession. The total number of establishments (that is any non-farm business of any size) has shrunk by nearly 5,000 since 2007. Furthermore, what is not shown in this graph is the fact that the ratio of smaller businesses to the total number of businesses has gone up while the ratio of large businesses to total businesses has gone down. This could be caused by professionals, having been laid off, opting to start their own small businesses versus working for a much larger company or, more likely, not working at all. (Also of note, there was a noticeable uptick in the number of establishments with no employees, i.e. sole proprietorships, after the recession.)
This next chart, titled “Total Establishments for Orange County, CA 2011,” shows the breakdown of establishments by the top 11 industries. The tech industry, especially in the medical field, is the largest industry by number of establishments in Orange County during 2011. The health care and social assistance industry is the second largest (by total number of establishments) and will most likely only increase in size as the population of Orange County (and America at large) gets relatively older compared to our current situation. Tourism is probably the driver for some, if not most, of the next three or four largest industries.
Employment Situation in Orange County, CA
While the total amount of money being paid to Orange County employees in 2011 was nearly back to the same amount as before the recession hit, the number of people employed was still about 175,000 off from its high and is barely higher than the number of people employed in OC during 1998. According to the California Employment Development Department, in August 2013 the total number of non-farm jobs was 1,426,800; that number would still be about 50,000 shy of the high reached in 2007 though.