Small Biz: Not Small at 32.5 Million Strong


Small Biz: Not Small at 32.5 Million Strong


National Small Business Week is celebrated annually. In 2022, it’s scheduled for May 1-7 and carries the theme, Building a Better America Through Entrepreneurship. Small businesses have faced the brink of late. Think: offshore production, then onshore, workforce shortages, aging demographics, COVID, PPP (Paycheck Protection Program), the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), rising costs, and supply chain woes.

One thing is certain. U.S. small businesses possess several common threads – resiliency, ingenuity, and creativity. Maybe they were down, but they certainly weren’t out. They’ll come back even stronger from whatever brink poses a threat.

The impact of small business is easily overlooked. They enjoy strength in numbers:
-the U.S. has 32.5 million small businesses;
-small business employment includes 61.2 million people or 46.8% of U.S. employees;
-99.9% of all firms are considered ‘small’;
-the definition of ‘small’ varies by industry type, but usually means an independent business with fewer than 500 employees;
-62% of net new jobs are attributable to small businesses; and
-39.7% of private sector payrolls are generated from small businesses

Move over, the ‘face’ of small business is changing:
-9.22% are minority owned;
-11.69% are female owned;
-3.97% are Hispanic owned;
-3.08 are African American owned;
-2.54% are Asian American owned; and
-1.76% are veteran owned

In Wisconsin, there are more than 461,500 small businesses, or 99.4% of all businesses. They employ 1.3 million associates or 49% of all employees. Small businesses in Wisconsin make a global impact. An estimated 7,647 businesses, 85.6% of the total, exported $5.6 billion worth of goods and services in 2019.

And the beat goes on. In St. Croix County, the Census QuickFacts indicates there were slightly more than 2,300 ‘employer establishments’ in 2019. They employed almost 33,000 people and reported a total annual payroll of $1.36 billion. Employment increased +2.3% from 2018 to 2019. The numbers of women-owned and minority-owned firms are up, too.

In reality, Small is Big. In the classic match-up of small versus big, don’t count out David or Davida against Goliath. Quicker, nimbler, hungrier, and more eager gives the advantage to the seeming underdog called small business.

Here’s to National Small Business Week. Go Small Go!

March 2022 Unemployment

Trending News

St. Croix County’s March Unemployment Rate is 3.5%

On April 20th, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the preliminary March 2022 unemployment rates for Wisconsin’s 72 counties and the 35 cities with populations greater than 25,000 residents. St. Croix County’s March rate was estimated at 3.5%, which is higher than February’s final rate of 3.4% and January’s final rate of 3.3%. One year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 4.5%.

DWD said preliminary unemployment rates from February to March decreased or stayed the same in 62 of the 72 counties. Rates declined in all 72 counties year-over-year. The current rates range from 2.3% in Dane to 6.5% in Iron.

Preliminary unemployment rates from February to March decreased or stayed the same in 25 of Wisconsin’s 35 largest cities. Year-over-year the rates declined in all 35 cities. Rates ranged from 2.0% in Fitchburg to 5.0% in Milwaukee.

The five counties with the lowest unemployment rates in March include Dane (2.3%), Calumet (2.4%), Ozaukee (2.5%), Sheboygan (2.6%), and Waukesha (also at 2.6%). Iron County had the highest rate in March at 6.5%, followed by Bayfield (6.4%), Forest (6.3%), Adams (also at 6.3%), and Burnett (6.1%).

St. Croix, Pierce, and Polk counties comprise Wisconsin’s Greater St. Croix Valley. In addition to St. Croix’s rate of 3.5%, March’s preliminary rate in Pierce was 3.8% and Polk’s rate was 4.9%.

St. Croix and Pierce counties are included in the 15-county Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI metro area. The March 2022 unemployment rate for the Twin Cities was estimated at 2.5%, which is higher than the final rate of 2.4% for February but lower than January’s final rate of 3.0%. The unemployment rate in the Twin Cities was 4.3% in March 2021.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for Wisconsin in March was estimated at 2.8%, which is lower than February’s final rate of 2.9% and January’s final rate of 3.0%. One year ago, the state’s seasonally adjusted rate was 4.3%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in Minnesota for March was estimated at 2.5%, which is lower than February’s final rate of 2.7% and January’s final rate of 2.9%. Minnesota’s seasonally-adjusted rate one year ago was 3.7%.

The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate in the U.S. for March was estimated at 3.6%, which is lower than February’s final rate of 3.8% and January’s final rate of 4.0%. One year ago, the U.S. rate (seasonally adjusted) was estimated at 6.0%.

Wisconsin’s preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for March was estimated at 66.5%, which is higher than the final rate of 66.4% for both February and January. One year ago, Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate was also 66.6%. The preliminary (seasonally adjusted) labor force participation rate for the U.S. in March was estimated at 62.4%, which is higher than February’s final rate of 62.3% and January’s rate of 62.2%. One year ago, the labor force participation rate in the U.S. was 61.5%.

March’s estimates are preliminary and are subject to revision within the next few weeks.

Loose Change? Two Cents Worth


Loose Change? Two Cents Worth


A bold prediction: winter will end. Sometime. Soon. Hearty residents of Wisconsin’s St. Croix Valley will finally shed their puffy winter coats for something lighter. And in doing so, they’ll likely leave pocketsful of coins in their September-April apparel. Don’t believe it? Check the spring-summer-fall fashion. Jingle-Jingle. Or, check the center console of primary and secondary vehicles, and then the one or two permanently parked vehicles missing license tabs. Check the family curse jar, sofa, and the catch-all coffee mugs.

Why check? It appears there’s a national coin shortage. Blame it on COVID or the continued movement toward a cashless society. No doubt, the shortage is directly related to the pandemic. It disrupted buying habits from in-person transactions to debit or credit. Several trade associations representing grocers, retailers, and banks asked the U.S. Treasury for assistance in getting American consumers to put their hoarded coins into circulation. By mid-2020 the Federal Reserve reportedly restricted coin orders from banks and credit unions, further tightening the supply. An awareness campaign helped, but the availability of coins tightened once again in 2022.

A college professor may argue the coin shortage is more of an imbalance than a real life shortage. The professor may insist the U.S. has plenty of coins, but they are not cycling through the economy fast enough. Maybe it’s a coin circulation slowdown?

Without access to change in the registers, some of the big box retailers asked their customers to pay with credit or debit cards or exact change. Another retailer rounded purchases up to the nearest dollar to avoid giving out change. In the retailer’s defense, consumers were asked if they wanted the rounding to go to charity or onto an in-store loyalty card.

Back to the pockets, consoles, and curse jars. St. Croix Valley residents are very generous. The children’s college funds can wait. Ditto for the five dollar coffee funds and the Saturday garage sale circuits. This week’s Big Idea involves rounding up the St. Croix Valley’s loose change and directing it toward charities of choice.

Think about organizations that rhyme with food pantry, food bank, family resource center, united way, early childhood development, or habitat for humanity. A little goes a long way, but a couple of families doubling up or a neighborhood working together would make a huge difference. Any amount helps. The food bank says a one dollar donation has the buying power of purchasing eight dollars of food through its network. Jingle-Jingle. Even the college professor agrees $4.25 in loose change means $34 of food through buying network (double-check the math though, professor). Habitat for Humanity could use loose change directed toward the purchase of a two-by-four or paint for a bedroom in someone’s first home. Remember, an affordable home is where jobs go to sleep. A standard two-by-four maybe equates to a pocket and a half of change.

Let’s loosen up the imbalance of the St. Croix Valley’s coin supply. In doing so, the valley becomes a better place than it already is. Jingle-Jingle. Let’s do this.