About This Chart

This interactive chart plots data on Inc. 500 firms by state and population from 1982 to 2010. Due to the variability of data of Inc. 500 firms by state, a chart for year-by-year numbers comes out pretty scattered and hard to digest. Thus, for the purposes of graphing the data in a clear manner, each year on this chart represents a five-year average of Inc. 500 firms. That is, 2010 represents the average of 2006 to 20101. If you are interested in looking at the underlying, non-averaged data by state, be sure you look at the The Ascent of America's High-Growth Companies: An Analysis of the Geography of Entrepreneurship (PDF). You can change how the chart displays by tweaking four different variable settings:

Count – the raw number of Inc. 500 firms in each state
Score – the number of Inc. 500 firms weighted by state population (in millions)
Population – state population scaled logarithmically
Pop.Growth – state population growth over time, scaled logarithmically and distributed from ranks 1 through 5

The default setting we've selected is to plot the Count on the x-axis and Score on the y-axis. To display the circles more evenly, we've defaulted to use a logarithmic scale for the x-axis so that large states like California don't skew the distribution.

The circles have two variable settings—color and size. The default setting uses 1-5 population growth groupings (Pop.Growth) for color, with blue as the lowest and red as the highest, and scaled population (Population) for the size.

To read the default chart, the further right a circle appears on the x-axis, the greater that state's raw Inc. 500 count; the higher up a circle is on the y-axis, the higher that state's per capita Inc. 500 count. You can click a state or states (under "Select") to highlight the movement of specific state. There are drop-down menus next to the axes and color and size settings where you can change any of the default settings.

1Due to when years of available data stops, 1985 is a four-year average from 1982-1985. All other years are five-year averages.