The mention of small business payrolls, and how much employees of small businesses earn, often brings with it visions of minimum-wage workers and meager paychecks. But in several states, and across several business sectors, working for a small business can be lucrative.

In a Nov. 3 item at, writer Kathryn Dill describes a recent survey of the top states for small business salaries that shows, “[b]eing an employee of a small business doesn’t mean … a small salary.”

In several states, Dill writes, small business employees are enjoying six-figure salaries. And to find the highest-salaried small business jobs, you must go west. The study, conducted by the personal finance website NerdWallet, shows that the average salary of California entertainment, arts and recreation firms of four or fewer employees is a whopping $277,597.48.

New York finance and insurance companies of 50 to 99 employees placed second on the list, paying an average annual salary of $195,194.95.

According to Dill, NerdWallet’s study was based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau covering all the 50 states and Washington D.C. Businesses were categorized according to the North American Industry Classification System, and further divided by workforce size: zero to four, five to 19, 20 to 49, and 50 to 99.

While California tops the average salary list, New York has top ten entries in three size classes in the finance and insurance sector. Connecticut also makes three appearances in the top ten for finance and insurance in all but the smallest firm class, with average salaries in the range of $119,862 to $145,210.

Dill wrote that Texas, Illinois, New Jersey and even Delaware are well represented on the list. Employees of the smallest healthcare and social assistance firms in Delaware do very well, earning an average $83,360.

Not surprisingly, Texas and Colorado represent the mining, quarrying and oil/natural gas extraction sector on the list, with Colorado firms of 50-99 employees paying an average $98,529.

While California and New York hold the top four spots on the list in terms of average salary across all business sizes and sectors, Washington, D.C. the best pay in 17 combinations of business size and sector can be found in New York, Washington, D.C., and Connecticut. Washington D.C. dominates the professional, scientific and technical service sector in average salaries across all business sizes, starting at $128,272 in firms of zero-to-four employees.

By size nationwide, the best salaries are found in companies of 50-99 employees. They pay an average of $41,782. Companies of 5-19 employees are at the low end of the average scale, paying $35,801.

According to Dill, the best small business pay nationwide by industry is in management; mining, quarrying and oil/gas extraction; and finance and insurance.


Dill, Kathryn. The States Where Small Business Employees Earn the Most; Forbes. November 3, 2014.