New England Survey of Environmental Horticulture 2003

2003 Survey Database Numbers


This year's survey list was compiled from a merge/purge of the previous survey whole industry list (conducted in 1999, issued January 2000, based on 1998 figures), with firms obtained by U.S. Mailing Systems (Milton, VT) under the 5 primary SIC codes applicable to this industry. The list was then sorted alphabetically and by zip, in order to check for an delete obviously duplicate firms. The resulting list of 15,192 was used for mailing a postcard alerting them to the mailing of the survey. Even though only part of this entire list would receive the card, it also functioned to advertise the survey and to check through the US Mail system for bad addresses. Even with LACS and NCOA checks in the previous survey, the actual mailing was found to be the most effective means to verify accuracy of the list, and so was used alone this time.

Of the 15,192 addresses to which the card was mailed, 1726 were returned, resulting in a final listing of good addresses of 13,466. This broke down by state as shown in Table 1. From the survey returns, those firms responding as being part of the industry (earning at least 50% of gross income from activities related to the green industry), and adjusted downward by an average 3% for obvious duplicates not eliminated through postal mailings, were used to determine state percents and numbers for eligible firms-- those actually with a majority income from this industry. These were then compared to the past survey figures, with the result a total 9,945 firms believed part of this industry, an increase of 29% overall for the region in the last 3 years. This may be a slightly higher percent than actually in reality, perhaps due to a different and seemingly better method of acquiring names this time, and so perhaps showing even fewer firms in the past survey than perhaps really existed.

Overall percent of eligible firms were up over 1998, believed due to a more efficient method this time of gathering names for the initial database. In the previous survey SIC codes were not used to acquire names, rather categories imported from CDrom yellow page categories, and merged with several other state and regional lists. The only outlying figure was for Maine, which was much lower than other states but similar to the previous database. This may be due to a disproportionate number of firms in Maine being listed under SIC codes for this industry, that do not actually have a majority of income from this industry. Also for Maine the number of firms showed a decrease from the previous survey, perhaps due in part to this same reason, with increased diversification outside this industry. With the numbers of certified nurseries in Maine remaining fairly constant over the period, this decrease in firms may be represented by services industries not counted in the certified listing. Percent of firms in each state, as a percent of the total, remained similar or the same over the 3 year period.

Table 1. Number of firms, by state, and total.
 
state 2001 firms, number % eligible 2001 2001 firms, eligible

(% of total)

% eligible 1998 1998 firms, eligible

(% of total)

Difference, % eligible firms
CT
3401
74%
2517

(26%)

59%
1549

(20%)

+62%
ME
1397
56%
782

(8%)

56%
834

(11%)

-6%
MA
5765
73%
4208

(44%)

74%
3655

(47%)

+15%
NH
1336
70%
935

(10%)

64%
733

(10%)

+28%
RI
863
76%
656

(7%)

62%
549

(7%)

+19%
VT
704
66%
465

(5%)

58%
413

(5%)

+13%
total
13,466
 
9541
 
7722
+24%

The 13,466 firms were sorted alphabetically, then every fourth firm picked for surveying. The ones not picked were then sent to state extension specialists in each state to determine which firms might be over $1million in value and should be included (since income is not evenly distributed across the total population). Firm members of state and regional industry boards were included as well in the mail-to list. With the additional firms added in to the initial random sampling, the numbers actually surveyed are shown in Table 2. The state expansion factor is the number multiplied by the percent of firms surveyed in any one state, or by other survey factors, to give 100% or an estimate of values for all the state population.

Table 2. Survey mailing numbers and percents, by state and totals.
 
State
Original number of firms
Percent of region total
firms mailed survey
Percent of total surveyed
Eligible firms
Percent of state firms surveyed
state expansion factor
CT
3401
25.3
997
25.4
2517
29.3
3.4
ME
1397
10.4
416
10.6
782
29.8
3.4
MA
5765
42.8
1641
41.9
4208
28.5
3.5
NH
1336
9.9
384
10.0
935
28.7
3.5
RI
863
6.4
284
7.2
656
33.0
3.0
VT
704
5.2
197
5.0
465
28.0
3.6
               
Total
13,466
100
3919
100
9541
29.1
 

Surveys were mailed to those chosen and among the numbers in Table 2 on September 4 and October 4, 2002. Patterned after the previous survey, incorporating feedback from the New England Nursery Association leadership, it is shown elsewhere. Returns are shown in Table 3. Not shown are returns for each mailing, the total of eligible returns for the region being 57% for the first mailing and 47% for the second. This gave a return on the second mailing of 74% of the first, which was identical to the previous survey in 1999, and excellent compared to a more normal 50% for such second mailings. Overall 74% of surveys returned were eligible for data entry, representing 11.6% of those 3,919 initially surveyed.

The response expansion factor is the number multiplied by the percent returned in any one state, or by other survey values, to give 100% or an estimate of values for the entire population surveyed.

For comparison, returns are shown for the 1998 survey. Return percents were down overall and for all states, except Rhode Island which was almost identical. The largest decrease, about 50% in return rate, was for Maine although the current return rate was more comparable to other states. Perhaps the return rate for the first survey was abnormally high, which seemed the case compared to all states in 1999 except Vermont. That the two largest states, Connecticut and Massachusetts, had the lowest return rates may be due to the fact this survey was mailed a month earlier than previously, these states being in southern New England have a longer growing season with more activity outdoors that time of year, and the fact this fall was relatively mild and so busy for firms both selling and working outdoors.

Table 3. Survey returns, by state and totals.
 
State
Firms surveyed
Total returned 2002 (%)
Response expansion factor
Total returned 1999 (%)
CT
997
13.3
7.5
18.3
ME
416
19.0
5.3
34.0
MA
284
13.5
7.4
21.8
NH
384
20.3
4.9
28.3
RI
284
15.1
6.6
19.3
VT
197
31.0
3.2
40.3
Total
3919
15.7
 
24.1

 

In summary, there appear to be about 29% more firms in the Environmental Horticulture Industry in 2002 compared to 1999, being almost 10,000 firms. Approximately 29% of these were surveyed, with a region return rate of almost 16%. Of the total firms, the most are once again found in Massachusetts (44%) and Connecticut (26%), with 5 to 10% in each of the other states.


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