Seattle and Washington are among the best generators of small-business jobs in the nation, but the data defy simple red state/blue state conclusions

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Washington state ranks No. 2 nationwide and Seattle is No. 4 among cities in job creation at small businesses, according to a new study from Paychex, which provides payroll, benefits, insurance and human resources outsourcing to small- and medium-sized firms, and the research company IHS.

The rankings come from data gleaned from 350,000 companies with 50 or fewer employees nationwide, as well as government data.

At this point, one is tempted to say: So much for the criticism of Seattle “socialism.” (Excuse me, SOCIALISM!!).

But in addition to being one of scores of economic lists (where Seattle and Washington almost always rank well), the findings here are, well, all over the map. For example, the No. 1 state for small-business job growth is Indiana. Reliably red, right-to-work, “religious freedom” Indiana. To be sure, the consequences of the law that potentially allows businesses to discriminate against LGBT customers have yet to be felt. But Indiana is on top, at least for small businesses.

Among metros, Dallas, San Francisco and Detroit (!) ranked higher than Seattle.

The study didn’t offer any analysis, so let me try. In the short run, ideology (and especially ideological rhetoric) means less than good economic bones. Thus, Seattle and Washington benefit from the small-business ecosystem surrounding aerospace, exporting and logistics, as well as tourism. There’s the start-up expansion here. And an ethos that values and patronizes small businesses.

Indiana? The Hoosier State remains one of the most manufacturing-intensive in the nation. That not only means smaller specialty manufacturers, but vendors, suppliers and professional services. Indiana has plenty of small towns, which might also goose its standing. Dallas is easy: It is a long-standing corporate center in an oil state. San Francisco is riding a phenomenal tech boom. Detroit’s downtown has been attracting businesses, and the auto industry still generates work for plenty of smaller firms.


Today’s Econ Haiku:

When Jamie met Liz

They sparred over banking rules

So fine me, he smiled


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