Insights from National Business Patterns: Retail

Greater Mankato’s economic strength comes from the diversity of industries that are present in the marketplace.  If one industry is ever down, another is usually on the way up.  When Greater Mankato Growth has looked at industry diversification in the past, we have analyzed the total wages of each industry to surmise the economic impact of each.  But, how does our industry diversification compare to other metropolitan areas across the country and what can it tell us about our economic forecast?

This blog post will focus on the Retail Sector and subsequent ones will explore other industries.


The Mankato-North Mankato metropolitan area, comprised of Blue Earth and Nicollet counties (referred to as “Greater Mankato”), has 2,614 businesses as of 2016.  Of those, 381 are retail.  There are 7 net fewer retail businesses in Greater Mankato as compared to 2015, however, there are 183 more employees.

Across all industries, Greater Mankato has the 41st highest number of employees per business in the country (out of 381 metropolitan areas).  This high rate is driven by retail.  In retail, we have the 8th highest rate of employees per business (19.45).  This means we have a lot more large national chains than average.

Our metro has the highest retail sales per capita in Greater Minnesota…meaning we have a very broad pull across southern Minnesota and northern Iowa for retail…we are a significant regional destination for retail shopping.  Some of the recent national retail closures in our marketplace will migrate the employee per business figure back down towards the average.


To explore this question, Greater Mankato Growth reviewed the recently release County Business Patters (CBP) from the U.S. Census Bureau.  The Bureau released the 2016 County Business Patterns (CBP) statistics on Thursday, April 19, 2018. CBP covers more than 7.7 million U.S. business establishments and provides employment and payroll data at subnational levels by industry.

Statistics are available at the U.S., state, metropolitan, county, and congressional district levels for nearly 1,200 industries.

CBP data are obtained from Census Bureau reports and administrative records from other federal agencies. CBP defines employment as all full- and part-time employees who were on the payroll during the pay period that includes March 12.