The City Beat ran across this map the other day while perusing the Strange Maps blog. The guys who assembled this mapped the Google Maps directory for places where bars outnumber grocery stores and found that this was true in the Upper Midwest.
They thought this was so odd they checked the map with data on the 2007 Census and found that North Dakota had the highest concentration of bars, or 6.54 bars per 10,000 residents, making us the Union’s top party state.
I thought this was worth looking into — maybe it could be a story — so I went to the Census site and did my own number crunching. I used the 2007 Economic Census, but got results different from the map makers. My results show we’re actually No. 4 not No. 1.
You can see my spreadsheet here. I think there’s something goofy about the way the Census records the number of bars. How is it possible that in all of Delaware with a population 865,000, there are only 13 bars? Delaware, if you remember this old blog post, is No. 4 in the nation for alcohol consumption, ahead of Wisconsin, even. Maybe the bars in Delaware serve enough food to qualify as restaurants. So, I’m going to take this data with a grain of salt, though it’s still interesting.
To read my spreadsheet, you need to know a little bit about the NAICS codes. NAICS is short for North American Industry Classification System, which classifies industries with a series of numbers, kind of like the Dewey Decimal System for businesses. It starts out with a two-number code for the general industry category and adds on more numbers to differentiate among different specialized businesses within each industry.
For example, 72 is accomodation and food services, 722 is food services and drinking places and 7224 is drinking places that provide alcoholic beverages.
So what I did was I tried to figure out the number of bars, or 7224, in each state — I tried looking at individual cities and counties, but the Census doesn’t seem to have that data — then I looked at the number of restaurants and bars, or 722. I was curious how many bars there were compared to the number of restaurants and bars. The assumption here is that a concentration of pure bars, meaning they don’t double as restaurants, might indicate that there’s a high enough concentration of drinkers that they can afford to specialize.
Then I looked at the number of businesses in performing arts, spectator sports and related industries, or 711. It’s worth finding out if there are a lot of alternatives to drinking. Sometimes I run across people who are from bigger cities and don’t do much drinking, and it seems like their lament is that there isn’t a lot of things to do at night except drink. Again, you have to take these numbers with a grain of salt, because I don’t really see children’s ballet as an alternative to drinking. Bands, theater, sporting events are true alternatives. But I’m lumping them all in one category.
So, as far as North Dakota is concerned, bars (7224) constitute 28.6 percent of all restaurants and bars (722). That’s pretty high:
- Wisconsin: 50.2 percent.
- West Virginia: 33.3 percent. (Yet they supposedly don’t drink that much….)
- North Dakota: 28.6 percent.
- Louisiana: 25 percent.
- Iowa: 21.5 percent.
The ratio of bars (7224) to entertainment (711) in North Dakota is 88:1,000. That’s on the high side, but not enough to put us in the Top 5. We’re in the Top 6.
- Louisiana: 154:1,000.
- Wisconsin: 142:1,000.
- West Virginia: 136:1,000.
- Mississippi: 10.9:1,000.
- Oklahoma: 9.1:1,000.
In terms of bars per 10,000 residents, North Dakota is high enough for the Top 5. Here the stats are again skewed in some weird way. How is it that Washington state, where I’m from, has fewer bars than Utah? We love our beers and wines in Washington and have a high concentration of microbreweries and wineries.
- Wisconsin: 3.43.
- Louisiana: 2.33.
- West Virginia: 1.93.
- North Dakota: 1.85.
- Texas: 1.74.
Below, you’ll find a really rough map of this. Light yellow is 0-0.24. Yellow is 0.25-0.49. Light orange is 0.5-0.74. Orange is 0.75-0.99. Red is 1-1.49. Brown is 1.5-1.99. Dark brown is 2 or more.
North Dakota is definitely below the national average when it comes to entertainment. We’re No. 37 with 21.09 entertainment businesses per 10,000 residents, but our neighbor on the rankings is No. 36 North Carolina with 21.1.
- Vermont: 50.49.
- Washington, D.C.: 50.36.
- New York: 49.17.
- Nevada: 39.61.
- California: 38.05.
Well, I guess the numbers are a bit weird, but they do seem to reflect some general truths. Make of them what you will.