These States Have the Most Essential Businesses



Most Essential Businesses 1

A study by LendingTree has ranked states across America on the number of essential businesses in a particular state. The study found the state of Maryland is home to 113,421 (81.5%) out of 139,143 businesses that are considered as essential businesses.



States with the Most Essential Businesses

Maryland’s ranking as the state with the highest number of essential businesses is because of the high number of restaurants and physicians’ offices residing in the state.

Virginia is a close second in the states’ ranking with 162,469 out of 201,593 essential businesses. This accounts for 80.6% of all businesses in Virginia. Oklahoma follows in third place with 80.5% of its businesses as essential.

At the end of the spectrum is Washington D.C. coming in last as the location with the least number of essential businesses. Of the 72.8% essential businesses in Washington D.C., public relations agencies are the most prevalent business types. The states of Hawaii and Wisconsin follow Washington with 74.5% and 76% respectively with essential businesses.

The designation on whether a business is essential or otherwise came to the fore over concerns of the outbreak of the coronavirus. This prompted restrictions or even closures of businesses deemed non-essential in order to curb the spread of the virus.

When a state classifies a business as being critical or essential, it automatically qualifies to stay in the exemption list. This means it can stay open. In addition, its employees can leave their home to go to work if they can’t work from home. Even with these exemptions, not all businesses remained open. Either prompted by safety concerns or other issues.



As the restrictions are gradually winding down more and more non-essential businesses are going to open their doors to the public as well.

Aren’t All Businesses Essential in Some Way?

LendingTree’s study was based on analysis data from the Census Bureau’s 2016 County Business Patterns Survey. In it, the study compared the total number of establishments in each state to the number of essential establishments as defined according to a report from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Minnesota’s list of critical industries was used in the study. And it included the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). This is only one of the three resources used to determine eligibility for critical sector work designation.

In it, the list identifies only 56 out of a pool of 286 businesses as non-essential. This would essentially broaden what specifically would define a business as being essential.  Though there is general consensus that airports, grocery stores, hospitals and banks qualify as an essential business.



The designation of non-essential gets less murky with many preferring to categorize entertainment businesses as non-essential. However, depending on the particular state or city laundromats, hardware stores, law firms, hotels and a host of others can easily be essential businesses. Ambiguity aside all businesses are essential in some way because they provide a particular specialized service.

A case in point here is Oklahoma’s definition of essential industries. It includes construction and infrastructure, finance, restaurants and retail, among others. To top it off, the study found that religious services in the state of Oklahoma were the most prominent essential offering. The ruling falls on what the particular state defines as being an essential business.

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image: LendingTree
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Samson Haileyesus Samson Haileyesus has several years of progressive experience in media, communication and PR working with government, NGOs and private sector. He is passionate about public outreach, branding, media relations and marketing.

One Reaction
  1. What is considered essential or non-essential greatly depends on who you are talking to. This ultimately depends on your audience.

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