Archive for October, 2008

Employees by Class Size, U.S., Part 1, the Basics

October 29, 2008

It is often said that most jobs are created by small business.  I usually take this as propaganda by the latest political candidate, but I decided to look into, you know, actual statistics.  First, I found data from the U.S. Statistical Abstract, and it wasn’t detailed enough for me, so I went ‘ahunting at the County Business Patterns reports, one of the auxiliary report series the BOC puts out in coordination with many other federal agencies.

NOTE:  You can get a larger, more readable view of these graphs by double-clicking on them.

This is the first in a short series, because the detail would be just too much for one post.  So, here are two graphs: one showing the number of employees in each of five size classes the reports present, and the second showing a trend line comparing the different class sizes.

Notice that most of the employees in the U.S. work in small businesses.  In fact, between 71% and 74% of all employees in the U.S. work in establishments smaller than 500 persons.

The next question was, how has this ranking changed over time?  The answer is, well, not much.  Looking at the graph below, you can see that the greatest number of employees have worked in establishments of between 20 and 99 persons in the period from 1980 to 2004.

Coming soon, some other graphs I did on the percentage distribution of these statistics, and a comparison of the percentage of persons with the percentage of payrolls in each size class.  It will probably surprise you as it did me. And it raised more questions that it provided answers.

More to follow…

Roofus Goes to Paris

October 28, 2008

My brother went to Paris a few years ago for his birthday, and he found Roofus sitting atop a statue.  So this is where he goes when he isn’t sitting on the roof of the old Victorian building next door.

According to my brother, this was taken on a clear November day:

I took the picture in Paris, not too far from the Louvre.  It’s in a city park that used to be the site of the Guillotine that beheaded so many people during the French Revolution.  I don’t remember who this guy is, but he definitly has some pent up angst.  Anyway, I was thinking that it would make a great Rufus shot for your blog.  Maybe you could start a contest to see what countries Rufus has been visiting?

He must be at least trilingual, because I have heard rumors that he sometimes winters in Baja.

Farm Cooperatives in the U.S.: A Snapshot Through Time

October 24, 2008

Just recently there was a lively discussion of cooperatives on one of the discussion groups I subscribe to, so I thought I would trace at least one of them:  Farm Cooperatives.  I had to narrow it down because, much to my surprise, there is a wealth of information out there.  In this particular case I went to the USDA web site and they have an entire section on cooperatives.  Furthermore, they have statistics with long term trends, some beginning with 1913.

The next task was to narrow down the data from “Farm Cooperatives” in general to just one out of all the kinds of farm cooperatives they have data for.  In this very narrow category, I assembled data for Farm Cooperatives specializing in marketing, farm supplies and services, a very narrow category indeed, since there are ones for rice and corn and machinery and everything else imaginable in the world of farms.

So, here is a graph of the number of these particular cooperatives from nearly the beginning of the 20th century until 2002.

So, the next question was, if there was such a precipituous decline in the number of coops in this category, what was happening to the membership during this period.  Not surprisingly, it was in decline as well, but with a different envelope.  Here is that graph.

Finally, one might ask, what was the average membership for each of these coop organizations?  One would think that it, too, might be declining, but noo, it was going the other way around.  Here is the graph for that.

So, we might conclude that there was a consolidation and concentration going on.  But that is only part of the story.  Stay tuned for the tangled web, and perhaps a few hints that the coop movement may be on the move again.

Interlude 2: More Old Building Designs

October 19, 2008

So, I am a Project Gutenberg addict. There is a goldmine of lost practices and designs for structures in there. This one is called Wordward’s Graperies and Horticultural Buildings and has some beautiful building designs of “Graperies” that would make fine Little House designs in their own right.

Here are a few pictures from the ebook:

This one is a front view of what, in the book, is a quite long structure intended to grow grapes indoors in the Hudson river valley, where they were not successful at growing European grapes because of mildew problems.

The one below is an open-ended structure that appears to be a kind of promenade with fountains.

This one looks to be a full-scale greenhouse.  I like the idea of the long windows along the side walls.

This one appears to be built on a foundation that barely reaches above grade, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t make a livable structure. With the gutters at the edge, they could act as part of a rainwater collection system, in my estimation.

Finally, there is this one, with the greenhouse/gazebo structure built right onto the house.

I hope you enjoy these pictures as much as I do.  If you feel so inclined, go read the book.  This sometimes feels like rediscovering the wheel instead of reinventing it.

Interlude: Houses from the past

October 17, 2008

So, I was browsing around at Project Gutenberg for books on how people thought of houses in the past, and ran across this ebook. Rural Architecture. which has the extended title, “Being a complete description of Farm Houses, Cottages and Outbuildings.”  The book is about 380 pages long with another 12 or so pages advertising a series of publications by this publishing house.

I was particularly taken by some of the line drawings, some of which follow.  In between each segment on a particular type of house there are rather detailed plans and notations, and I was reminded of Yogi Berra’s comment that “you can see a lot by just observing.”



This is one example of an old cottage from the book. A couple more of them are below.
Old Two-Story Cottage line drawing
Above is a two-story cottage.  Notice the extension on the back.  This seemed to be a popular design in the mid 1800’s.

Here is another:

another example of a cottage design around 1850
It seems to me that there is a striking resemblance to modern “Little Houses.” So what is old becomes new again.