For people born and educated before the internet arrived on the scene, the World Wide Web is both a blessing and a curse.
The blessing is that the internet brings the entire world’s information to you in an instant. The curse is that the internet brings the entire world’s information to you in an instant.
A few years ago that would have been a confusing statement. Not so much these days. Today’s internet users understand the black and white of web use, and that information pulled from websites can be true, and just as easily it can be completely false.
That’s not so different from the old days of trundling off to the public library to research a subject for a school paper. Students often had to be diligent bout separating fact from fiction. It’s just much, much faster these days.
The internet is a marvelous tool for newspaper writers and editors, and to say we use it all the time would be a gross understatement. Just about every fact we present in our stories is vetted, thoroughly, by a search through the web’s extensive library.
That is one of the reasons we appreciate the research done by the personal finance website WalletHub, a Washington-based organization whose principal mission is providing personal credit scores and information. WalletHub’s researchers use a variety of metrics to create a blend of facts about all sort of things. The subject that interests us today involves California’s economy.
For example, the latest from WalletHub’s experts concerns a compilation of which cities are best for real estate agents, and it should come as no surprise that on a list of the top 20 cities in the nation, California has six contenders.
Real estate sales commissions are based on the sale price of a home, so San Francisco being No. 3 on WalletHub’s list is expected. No.1 on the list is Seattle. No surprise there either.
Modesto didn’t make the list because home prices there aren’t even close to San Francisco, but agents in Modesto apparently work harder, because they have the highest homes sold per agent at just over 106 a year. If you want to sell your home quickly, Oakland is the place to be, at just under 41 days average.
On the other hand, a separate WalletHub report identifies the best cities in which to launch a small business, and you can probably guess that not a single California town made the top-20 list. In fact, Twentynine Palms is the first California entry, checking in at No. 272. Lemon Grove ranks 309th, and Coachella is No. 334, probably due to the tent businesses that thrive during the big desert concert each spring.
The reason this report is significant is that, despite the looming presence of mega-corporations, small businesses are the backbone of this nation’s economy. As of the end of 2016, there were 5.6 million employer companies, and those with 500 or fewer workers accounted for 99.7 percent of the total.
Starting a small business is a risky venture. About 630,000 businesses open each year, while nearly 600,000 are shutting down.
The 30 million, give or take, small businesses generate about half the nation’s annual gross domestic product, while providing nearly two-thirds of the country’s jobs.
The fact that so few California towns make a national best-place-to list reveals a fundamental weakness in this state’s economic strategy, which is an issue that needs more attention from our policy makers, the men and women creating the rules on business permits and zoning decisions.