Where the most Maine businesses are going it alone

Per capita, Knox County is Maine’s capital for solo business owners.

Census figures released Thursday show businesses that have no employees, by county.

For every 100 people, Knox County has 12.7 businesses with no employees, most of which are sole proprietorships. Hancock and Lincoln counties are close behind.

The census bureau excludes these businesses from its data for their relatively small economic impact nationally (about 4 percent of all sales), but they note the majority of all businesses in the country are “non-employers.”

For Knox, Hancock and Washington, it’s perhaps expected that an outsize share of those jobs are in either agriculture, forestry or fishing. (Those are all grouped in this data view.)

Statewide, that sector makes up about 9.5 percent of all non-employer firms.

In Knox County, it’s about 23 percent of all non-employer businesses. It’s 43 percent in Washington County. In the view below, click a sector in the color legend below the map to highlight that area across all counties and compare the shares that sector makes up for non-employer businesses in that county.

Viewed all together, construction led the state for the number of independent businesses.

Construction employment has been down in recent years, but the nonemployer data shows that much of that sector won’t be represented in payroll data, as there are 16,952 construction businesses out there with no employees.

Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.