Small Business Breakdown: Where are the Highest Salaries?

Small Business
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Small businesses are the backbone of the nation’s economy — about half of all American employees work at a small business. By one estimate, small businesses created 63% of all new jobs from mid-2009 to 2012, according to SCORE, a nonprofit that supports entrepreneurs.

What these numbers make clear is that when you’re hunting for a new job, small businesses should be at the top of your list. To lend some transparency to employment and pay in small businesses, NerdWallet crunched U.S. Census Bureau data to find the states, industries and size of businesses with the highest salaries.

To analyze which small business jobs should make the top of your list, we analyzed salaries at small businesses across the U.S. and focused on three main categories:
1. State: We looked at all 50 states as well as Washington, D.C.
2. Industry: Businesses were broken down into different industries based on the North American Industry Classification System.
3. Business size: We examined businesses with fewer than 100 employees and broke them down into four categories — 0 to 4, 5 to 19, 20 to 49 and 50 to 99 employees.

Alternatively, if you’re interested in starting your own small business, growing your business or finding funding for your business, learn more in our Small Business Loan Guide.

Key findings 

  • There are only 17 state-industry-business size categories (out of over 3,000) with an average employee salary of at least $100,000.
  • There are only six states among those 17 categories: Washington, D.C., leads the way with five categories, New York with four and Connecticut with three.
  • The three highest-paying industries for small business employees nationwide are management; mining, quarrying and oil extraction; and finance and insurance.
  • Of the four business-size categories, the largest one — 50 to 99 employees — has the nation’s highest average salary at $41,782.

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  • Washington, D.C., led all U.S. regions in terms of employee pay at small businesses, with an average salary of $63,242. New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and California make up the rest of the top five states where you’ll find the highest average small business salaries.

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The chart below lists the top 50 (out of over 3,000) state, industry and business-size categories with an average employee salary of at least $100,000 — from highest to lowest.

Under the chart, we list the top five state and business size categories in the three highest-paying industries — management; mining, quarrying and gas extraction; and finance and insurance.

Small business breakdown: Average salaries over $100,000

Rank State Industry Employment size Average employee salary
1 California Arts, entertainment, and recreation 0-4 $277,597.48
2 New York Finance and insurance 50-99 $195,194.91
3 New York Finance and insurance 20-49 $160,794.78
4 California Information 0-4 $148,851.35
5 Connecticut Finance and insurance 5-19 $145,210.40
6 Connecticut Finance and insurance 50-99 $130,323.63
7 New York Finance and insurance 5-19 $130,171.78
8 Washington, D.C. Professional, scientific, and technical services 0-4 $128,272.50
9 Washington, D.C. Professional, scientific, and technical services 50-99 $123,145.95
10 Connecticut Finance and insurance 20-49 $119,862.13
11 Illinois Information 0-4 $119,264.12
12 New York Arts, entertainment, and recreation 0-4 $118,141.69
13 Washington, D.C. Professional, scientific, and technical services 20-49 $112,729.39
14 Massachusetts Finance and insurance 20-49 $111,224.51
15 Washington, D.C. Finance and insurance 20-49 $108,913.39
16 Massachusetts Professional, scientific, and technical services 50-99 $107,317.98
17 Washington, D.C. Professional, scientific, and technical services 5-19 $106,804.24
18 Colorado Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction 20-49 $98,529.99
19 Massachusetts Information 50-99 $97,335.80
20 New York Management of companies and enterprises 50-99 $97,196.43
21 California Finance and insurance 20-49 $94,464.01
22 New Jersey Finance and insurance 20-49 $93,631.53
23 Connecticut Professional, scientific, and technical services 50-99 $93,556.39
24 Massachusetts Finance and insurance 50-99 $92,375.66
25 Massachusetts Finance and insurance 5-19 $92,201.87
26 New Jersey Management of companies and enterprises 50-99 $91,458.65
27 Texas Management of companies and enterprises 20-49 $89,792.38
28 California Finance and insurance 50-99 $87,966.44
29 California Professional, scientific, and technical services 50-99 $86,694.64
30 Washington Professional, scientific, and technical services 50-99 $86,026.80
31 California Information 50-99 $85,810.12
32 Texas Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction 0-4 $85,111.92
33 Massachusetts Professional, scientific, and technical services 20-49 $84,971.02
34 Washington, D.C. Information 20-49 $83,713.35
35 Tennessee Finance and insurance 50-99 $83,658.84
36 Delaware Health care and social assistance 0-4 $83,360.82
37 Maryland Professional, scientific, and technical services 50-99 $82,976.00
38 New Jersey Professional, scientific, and technical services 50-99 $82,874.03
39 California Management of companies and enterprises 20-49 $82,811.65
40 Virginia Professional, scientific, and technical services 50-99 $82,338.66
41 New York Finance and insurance 0-4 $82,086.25
42 Colorado Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction 50-99 $81,886.86
43 New Jersey Finance and insurance 5-19 $81,318.84
44 Illinois Professional, scientific, and technical services 50-99 $80,853.52
45 California Information 20-49 $80,531.24
46 Maryland Finance and insurance 20-49 $80,367.72
47 New Jersey Finance and insurance 50-99 $79,786.22
48 Texas Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction 50-99 $79,441.63
49 New York Information 0-4 $79,415.17
50 New York Professional, scientific, and technical services 50-99 $79,225.82

 

Top three highest-paying industries for small business employees

1. Management of companies and enterprises

Average salary: $74,403.11

Rank State Employment size Average employee salary
1 New York 50-99 $97,196.42
2 New Jersey 50-99 $91,458.65
3 Texas 20-49 $89,792.38
4 California 20-49 $82,811.65
5 Texas 50-99 $76,728.31

 

2. Mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction

Average salary: $66,494.92

Rank State Employment size Average employee salary
1 Colorado 20-49 $98,529.99
2 Texas 0-4 $85,111.92
3 Colorado 50-99 $81,886.87
4 Texas 50-99 $79,441.63
5 Louisiana 50-99 $77,183.57

 

3. Finance and insurance

Average salary: $62,574.33

Rank State Employment size Average employee salary
1 New York 50-99 $195,194.91
2 New York 20-49 $160,794.78
3 Connecticut 5-19 $145,210.40
4 Connecticut 50-99 $130,323.63
5 New York 5-19 $130,171.78

 


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