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The New Economy

Does your state have Google mojo?

Here are the Top 10 states with the most Google business mojo per capita.

By Staff writer / May 26, 2010

California clearly has Google mojo as (from left) Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger; Stanford Professor Martin Fischer; Wendy Schmidt of the Schmidt Family Foundation; and YouTube CEO Chad Hurley announce the launch of the Green Products Innovation Institute May 20 at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Which states generate the most Google business mojo?

Tony Avelar//Green Products Innovation Institute/AP

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Fifty-four billion dollars.

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That's the economic activity that high-tech giant Google calculates it generated last year for US businesses, Web publishers, and nonprofit groups. And what state benefited the most from that Google money mojo?

California, Google's home state? Not if you count on a per-capita basis. High-tech powerhouse Massachusetts? Nope. Not Texas, New York, or Illinois, either.

It's Washington State, better known as headquarters to Google rival Microsoft.

Washington businesses last year generated $2.8 billion of business using Google's core search and advertising tools, according to a report (.pdf) released Tuesday by the search-engine giant. That works out to $435.10 per resident, which is higher than No. 2 District of Columbia ($432.48) and even No. 3 California ($387.86). (Click on the chart above to see the Top 10 Google states.)

You can claim the numbers are overblown. You can dispute the methodology (crafted in part by well-known economist Hal Varian). You can point out that Google, under fire politically, has good reasons to show how it's helping small businesses.

What's intriguing, though, is how some economies, like Washington's, are able to capture more online pop than others.

"It's not insignificant," says Arun Raja, chief economist for the state of Washington. Using Google's figures, he calculates that its economic effect represents nearly 1 percent of the state's gross state product. That's better than double the national average.

"We are a very high-tech state," Mr. Raja points out. "There are a lot of new start-ups that come. This area is also very, very active in terms of venture capital."

One reason for Washington's high Google numbers may be that it's home to Amazon.com, one of the nation's top online retailers, whose sales are boosted by consumers searching Google for products.

While Washington tops the list of businesses enjoying strong Google-related economic activity, some states are notable for how little Google mojo they have: Mississippi ($11.18 per resident), Louisiana ($18.66), and New Mexico ($20.69). (Click on the chart above for the five lowest Google states.)

Google's reluctant to speculate about the economic impact of these levels.

"I would hesitate to make a sweeping generalization based on the data that we have," writes Andrew Pederson, a Google spokesman based in Mountain View, Calif., in an e-mail.

In Washington, however, Google's impact is clearly welcome, says Raja. "I do have to add that in this state we tend to root for Google's competitor."

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