When it comes to business growth in terms of employees, the county of Los Angeles and the state of California in general are leading the way. The latest statistics from the US Census Bureau (compiled last year) demonstrate that Los Angeles remains the top county in the nation in terms of both number of businesses and number of employees overall. And the rest of the state is tipping the scales in growth as well. San Francisco, Riverside and San Bernardino actually led the nation in annual employment growth among the top 50 U.S. counties with the most employees.

San Francisco County, first for the second year in a row, saw its employment grow 6.6 percent from 2014 to 2015, up 37,843 employees to 611,140 employees. The information sector, up 13.3 percent to 64,223 employees, led growth in that county. San Francisco also led the top 10 largest counties in annual payroll increase, climbing 12.1 percent to $59.3 billion.

Riverside County saw its employment grow 4.9 percent, up 25,284 employees to 540,169 employees in 2015. San Bernardino County’s employment grew 4.4 percent, up 24,396 employees to 578,755 employees in 2015. Santa Clara County’s employment grew 3.8 percent, up 36,807 employees to 999,906 employees in 2015.

Some of the top counties saw the Transportation and Warehousing sector driving their growth. In Riverside County, transportation and warehousing employment increased 32.3 percent, up 6,865 employees and San Bernardino County saw an increase in employment of 16.2 percent, up 8,125 employees in this sector.

These latest data come from the County Business Patterns study, released in 2017, which provides the only detailed annual information on the number of establishments, employees, and first quarter and annual payroll at the national, state, county, metropolitan, congressional district and five-digit zip code levels for nearly 1,200 industries.


  • Los Angeles County led all counties in the number of establishments (265,112) and employees (4.0 million); followed by Cook County, Ill., in both measures (132,237 establishments and 2.4 million employees).
  • California had more establishments (908,120) and employees (14.3 million) and a larger annual payroll ($857 billion) than any other state. Texas followed in each measure (569,091 establishments, 10.2 million employees and $521.1 billion in annual payroll). New York ranked third in all three measures: 540,298 establishments, 8.0 million employees and $513.1 billion in annual payroll.
  • Utah had the highest employment growth rate at 4.9 percent. The Transportation and Warehousing sector led growth in that state, up 20.3 percent to 58,453 employees.
  • New York County, N.Y. (Manhattan), topped all counties in annual payroll with $239.3 billion, while ranking third in establishments (105,444) and employees (2.2 million).
  • Wayne County, Mich., rounded out the top 10 large counties, with an employment increase of 3.6 percent (up 21,650 employees), led by the Manufacturing sector where employment increased 8.4 percent. The leading subsector was Transportation Equipment Manufacturing, in which employment increased 10.8 percent.

County Business Patterns debuted 71 years ago and has been published annually for the past 51 years.

The Census Bureau conducts an economic census every five years and provides a comprehensive and detailed profile of the U.S. economy, covering millions of businesses representing more than 1,000 industries and providing unique portraits of American industries and local communities.

Learn more at Census.gov.

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