In 1992, the Number of Businesses Grew Rapidly, Led by Small Firms

NATIONWIDE, there were 6.3 million nonfarm business establishments in 1992, up 1.9 percent from 1991, the Commerce Department's Census Bureau reported this week.

This was the largest one-year gain since 1987. Employment reached 93.3 million, up 1.1 percent, reversing the 1.3 percent decline in 1991. Average salaries ranged from about $21,000 in parts of the South to $28,000 in the Northeast. In nearly all areas, salaries increased more than 5 percent in 1992.

Also, more than 1 million jobs were added to the economy that year.

The nation's smallest businesses - those with fewer than 10 employees - led the renewed hiring, adding 368,000 jobs at more than 100,000 new locations.

Business establishments with 100 or more employees added more than 362,000 jobs, while those employing 10 to 99 people hired more than 283,000.

This information from the soon-to-be-released 1992 County Business Patterns report series shows that the number of small establishments increased nearly 1 percent a year between 1987 and 1991 but jumped 2.2 percent in 1992. Businesses with 10 or more employees were up about 1 percent in 1992 in both number and jobs, after showing corresponding decreases in 1991.

Manufacturers reduced their average number of employees per location by 5 percent in 1992. This is the third straight decline in the size of manufacturing establishments, from about 53.7 workers in 1989 to 46.9 in 1992. Consumers care about business ethics

DOES the public care about corporate social responsibility?

The answer is ``Yes,'' according to a survey by Walker Research, a division of Walker Group, a market-research firm based in Indianapolis. That applies to consumers making buying decisions, investors deciding where to put their money, and top employees considering job offers.

Some survey findings include:

* Seventy-eight percent of consumers won't buy from businesses they have negative perceptions about; 70 percent say even a discount would not cause them to buy from these firms.

* Twenty-six percent of investors say business practices and ethics are very important to investment decisions.

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