27% Jump in Online Shopping and Mail-Order Businesses

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Electronic shopping is showing rapid growth compared to the rest of the retail trade sector, with the number of establishments growing 27.4 percent between 2011 and 2012, according to new U.S. Census Bureau statistics released. Drawn from County Business Patterns: 2012, the new data provides the only detailed annual information on the number of establishments, employees and payroll for nearly 1,200 industries at the national, state and county levels.

The number of electronic shopping and mail-order houses establishments grew from 23,697 to 30,185 between 2011 and 2012. Employment climbed 13.7 percent to 365,508. In contrast, for the retail trade sector as a whole, which includes traditional “brick and mortar” stores, the number of establishments rose just 0.1 percent, while employment climbed 0.7 percent.

“Unlike traditional stores, which are located throughout the country, online shopping establishments and jobs are in concentrated areas,” said William Bostic Jr., the Census Bureau’s associate director for economic programs.

Census Explorer: Retail Edition, the latest version of the Census Bureau’s interactive map, gives users easier access to neighborhood statistics and shows the geographic concentration of electronic shopping and mail-order houses. 

Reversing a four-year decline, the data show that the total number of U.S. businesses with paid employees grew by more than 77,000 establishments to 7.4 million in 2012, an increase of 1.1 percent from 2011.

The greatest employment increases in electronic shopping and mail-order houses were concentrated in counties within Southern California, the New York metro area, Chicago metro area, and other metro areas such as Memphis, Tenn. (Shelby County), Las Vegas (Clark County), Grand Rapids, Mich. (Kent County), Columbus, Ohio (Franklin County) and Minneapolis (Hennepin County). In addition, two counties in North Carolina (Guilford and Wake, home of Greensboro and Raleigh, respectively) and one in Missouri (Clay, near Kansas City) also had large gains in employment for this industry. 

Other geographic highlights:
• Combined, California, Texas and Florida accounted for more than half of the establishments added between 2011 and 2012. In contrast, these three states accounted for one-quarter of all establishments in 2012. 
• The number of paid employees in the U.S. rose by 2.2 percent between 2011 and 2012; this represented an increase of more than 2.5 million employees. Texas, California, Florida, New York and Ohio led all states in number of employees added. 

• The number of paid employees in Puerto Rico rose to 690,597 in 2012, an increase of 2.5 percent over the previous year. Annual payroll totaled $16.9 billion in 2012, an increase of 2.4 percent.

Industry sector highlights
• Retail trade had the highest total number of establishments of any sector in 2012 (1.1 million), while health care and social assistance added the largest number of establishments over the year, at 15,157. Administrative and support and waste management and remediation services added more than 476,000 employees in 2012 to lead all sectors, an increase of 5.1 percent. 
• Nationally, the manufacturing sector added 1,578 establishments (an increase of 0.5 percent) and nearly 208,000 employees (an increase of 1.9 percent). 
• Annual payrolls nationally grew in all industry sectors; the overall increase was 4.8 percent to $5.4 trillion. 

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

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