Who Owns Whidbey Businesses

There are just under 6,000 businesses on Whidbey Island. According to Reference USA (and thanks to Sno-Isle Libraries for the access) there are 5,890 Verified and Unverified businesses on the island. Who owns them? In the US, 50.8% of the population are women and 49.2% of the population are men. Whidbey’s even closer: 50.1% are women. So, that’s how the business ownership splits. Right? Nope. It’s a bit different than population, the rest of the country, and the rest of the state.

First, diving into statistics is always a dive into assumptions and perspectives. While 50.8 + 49.2 = 100, a noticeable percentage don’t just have xx or xy chromosomes. Some day the census data will catch up. For now, let’s work within the data that’s generalized and available.

A quick glance at the news can reveal that more businesses are owned by men than by women. In the US, it’s 66.4% (men) and 38.0% (women). Umm. 66.4 + 38.0 > 100, which probably has to do with partnerships. (Check the other news items for all the variations on gender-spousal possibilities. Two partners does not mean two genders.) Washington State is a bit more balanced: 62.9% (men) 43.7% (women). Whidbey Island is more balanced than that, and significantly more balanced than the rest of the country: 59.2% (men) 47.0% (women). It’s still the opposite of the population distribution, but heading towards it.

Locals know the various pockets on the island are proud of their differences. There are good reasons for that. Every place has its place, its fans, as well as its foibles. The island is perfectly imperfect.

Looking at the island by zip code skews the data a bit because some pockets have fewer people, which means fewer businesses, which means a few bits of data can swing the data around. That may be why 98278 (Oak Harbor) and its 128 businesses is 70.3% (men) and 32.0% (women). The main part of Oak Harbor, 98277, has 2616 businesses – much bigger – and 60.1% (men) and 46.7% (women). More balanced than the country or the state. Greenbank (98253), Freeland (98249) and Clinton (98236) keep it in the 6s and 4s-ish (respectively 60.1%/50.0% , 60.2%/46.0%, 63.3%/42.2%). The standouts are the two towns known most for tourism. Coupeville’s 54.4%/51.1% and Langley’s 55.0%/50.6% are both in the 5s! Considering Langley’s history of having the first (or maybe the second) all-woman city government in the US, there’s precedence. Congratulations to Coupeville for getting closest to a balancing act rarely found in the US.

For those more comfortable with graphs:

by geographybusiness ownership percentages

by rank

business ownership percentages (1)

For those more comfortable with data:

Screenshot 2019-07-31 at 13.45.01

For those more comfortable with maps
(with distinctions only noticeable upon close inspection):

business distribution – all

Screenshot 2019-07-31 at 11.43.37

business distribution – men owned

Screenshot 2019-07-31 at 11.45.14

business distribution – women owned

Screenshot 2019-07-31 at 11.46.23

And for those more interested in diving into the data themselves or into other perspectives, contacting your local librarian can make the task mush simpler. (Thanks again to Sno-Isle Libraries.)


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