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Small Business Digest


States Vary In Gaining Economic Growth From Recession; Prognosis Good

In an unusual approach to measuring the rebound in small business activity, a recent survey of new phone numbers requested for marketing purposes yielded some surprising results.

There ae many ways of looking at the current situation in terms of small business growh but this study appears to be an interesting and perhaps telling way of doing so.

Called the The State of Small Business Post-Lehman, an analysis of which U.S. states have made the biggest strides since the financial meltdown yielded the following:

  • The states making the biggest comeback include Arizona, New Jersey, California, Washington and Nevada.
  • North Dakota, West Virginia, South Dakota, Iowa and Mississippi were the five coldest states, falling to the bottom of the rankings.

The plan was commissioned by CallFire, the cloud-based text and voice platform and looked at the purchase of small business phone numbers for trackable marketing campaigns used over a variety of ad mediums:  billboards, online ads, newspapers and more.

“Local phone number purchases serve as a proxy for small business economic activity, making it easy for us to tell which states are truly bouncing back,” said Dinesh Ravishanker, CallFire CEO. “Small businesses typically purchase phone numbers to track marketing spending and our data shows which states are aiming for high-growth, not maintenance of the status quo, one of the primary stats also tracked by the NFIB.”

CallFire mined local phone number data in the continental United States based on the billions of phone calls it processed, primarily serving small businesses, from September 2008 through December 2012 (see full methodology below).

Boom vs. Bust: How the States Stack Up 

  • The states hardest hit by the housing bubble are among the strongest performers in the analysis: Arizona, Nevada, Florida and California. All four experienced a sharp rebound.
  • North Dakota has experienced huge economic growth during this period but came up dead last according to the CallFire data. In this instance, virtually all of the state’s recent growth has been fueled by the shale oil and gas boom. While big firms are moving to North Dakota to build the support infrastructure, small businesses are not participating in nearly the same way.
  • The same applies to the economic boom in West Virginia, which has been driven almost exclusively by the mining industry and has yet to have a ripple effect on the broader economy in the state. To a lesser extent, this also explains Texas’ relative underperformance, despite the oil boom.
  • Washington State was a strong performer in both CallFire’s analysis and national GDP data. Much of the growth in that state is connected to “information services” – that is, to technology-focused companies that are more likely to purchase phone numbers.
  • Michigan outperforms other states in national GDP data but lags slightly in the state of small business data. Michigan’s growth has largely been driven by the auto industry’s emergence from bankruptcy. Only now are stories about small business/entrepreneurship taking root in cities like Detroit.


Callfire analyzed local phone numbers purchased in the Contiguous United States from 9/15/2008 through 12/31/2012. Data was normalized by adjusting for the number of small and midsize businesses in each state per the 2008 census, removing Hawaii and Alaska, and eliminating toll-free numbers.

Dinesh Ravishanker is CEO of CallFire is a Text and Voice platform that helps businesses reach customers, drive revenue and increase sales. visit

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