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The Official 2017 NNA Census: Notaries Are On The Rise Again

NNA 2017 Notary Census

(Originally published in the August 2017 issue of The National Notary magazine.)

If there’s one thing that our 2017 national census of Notaries made clear, it’s that the economy drives Notary growth — and the rising number of U.S. Notaries suggests business may be looking up. 2012 saw the first significant drop in U.S. Notary population in 40 years due to the economic hardships brought on by the collapse of the U.S. housing bubble and the Great Recession that followed.

But since then, the economy has stabilized, and the NNA's exclusive count of Notaries found that the number is again climbing upwards — to the tune of more than 77,000 nationwide.

While many states saw small decreases over the past five years, others such as Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas all saw significant upswings in new Notaries receiving commissions. Officials in these states credited the rise in Notaries to increasing prosperity and business growth, with more companies looking for Notaries to meet their transaction needs.

“Between 2007 and 2012, we saw many Notaries leaving the mortgage and settlement services industries,” said Phil Browne, NNA Vice President of Communications. “Now that we’re in better economic times, the demand for Notaries is starting to pick up again.”

What’s remarkable is that for the past 25 years, America has shown a consistent need for more than 4 million Notaries, to help protect its most important business and personal transactions. The Notary count broke the 4-million mark in the 1992 census and has stayed there ever since.

More Than 20 States See New Notary Growth
 

Today, there are more than 4.4 million Notaries commissioned throughout the United States. Overall, the number of new Notaries rose in 21 states.

Florida surpassed every other U.S. state and territory in new Notaries over the past five years, with an astonishing 97,838 additional Notaries commissioned between 2012 and 2017 — bringing the state’s total population to nearly half a million Notaries. Officials pointed to the state’s private-sector job growth, which has been above the national average for the past five years, and a drop in unemployment in Florida to the lowest levels since 2007.

“Since December 2010, more than 1.37 million Floridians have found private-sector employment, meaning job seekers are finding good jobs,” Cissy Proctor, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity said. “Our impressive job growth and business-friendly climate has helped Florida establish itself as a national leader in job creation.”

Texas added more than 26,000 new Notaries, giving the Lone Star State the second-largest number of Notaries in the U.S. The rising number of new businesses in the state in recent years has directly contributed to growing demand for Notary services, said Sam Taylor, Communications Director for the Texas Secretary of State’s office.

“The overall strength and diversity of the Texas economy is certainly a factor in our increased number of Notaries,” Taylor said. “As more people and businesses move to the state, the business community, homeowners, entrepreneurs and others are looking for the most efficient, streamlined process that allows them to get up and running quickly, which creates a demand for more Notaries.”

In Georgia, which gained more than 14,000 new Notaries in the past five years, a turnaround in the construction industry may have helped drive demand from businesses for notarial services, said Mike Smith, Director of Communications for the Georgia Superior Court Clerks’ Cooperative Authority, which regulates the state’s Notaries.

“We were slower to rebound from the recession than most states, because a lot of our economy was tied up in construction, and that took a hit when the real estate bubble burst,” Smith said. “But now there’s building going on everywhere. If the economy is doing better, I’d imagine businesses have more documents that need notarizing.”

North Carolina — a state that lost more than 20,000 between 2007 and 2012 — saw significant growth in new Notaries as of 2017, now boasting an estimated 174,000 Notaries in 2017. Most of that growth is very recent, said Ozie Stallworth, eNotarization Analyst and Director with the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office.

“A lot of that had to do with the recession and the problems in the mortgage industry,” Stallworth said. “Overall, our numbers plummeted in the past five or six years. But as of the past 18 months or so, the numbers are coming back thanks to trending economic improvement.”

Conversely, states that have been slower to recover from the economic downturn have seen fewer Notaries commissioned. One example is Arizona. With many jobs lost in the recession and a struggle with high unemployment rates over the past five years, Arizona saw a decline of more than 30,000 Notaries in the state between 2012 and 2017.

Ohio, a state that has experienced a downturn in manufacturing and a slow rate of job growth since the Great Recession, lost more than 60,000 Notaries in the past five years. Tennessee, another state that has struggled with high unemployment rates, saw a drop of 9,903 Notaries.

National Notary Population Remains Stable
 

Despite a handful of states seeing noticeable growth or decline, overall, the number of Notaries nationwide has climbed steadily over the past few years, adjusting to fit the growing needs of consumers as the national economy has settled from the tumultuous booms and busts of the previous decade.

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While Florida, Georgia and Texas saw the largest Notary growth among the 50 U.S. states, several others, including Alaska, Maryland, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont and Virginia saw an increase in the per capita number of Notaries available to serve state residents. In fact, while South Carolina ranks ninth in total number of Notaries, the Palmetto State has boasted more Notaries per capita than any other state for the past decade.Compared to 2012 — which saw a decline of more than 450,000 Notaries in the United States, the first national downturn the NNA has tracked in 40 years — in 2017 the U.S. total Notary population started to grow again with an increase of 77,967 new commission holders joining its ranks. In fact, the two states that reported the largest drops in 2012 — California and New Jersey, which each lost more than 120,000 Notaries between 2007 and 2012 — appear to be coming back. California’s Notary tally remained steady at 162,411 Notaries, and New Jersey saw its Notary count reach 134,414 — a gain of more than 9,800 new Notaries for the Garden State over the past five years.

As the U.S. economy has recovered, the need for Notary services today has not only remained constant, but in some states has seen significant growth. Through good times and bad, the services Notaries provide remains a vital part of our nation’s business and economy.

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

Additional Resources:

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1 Comment

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Jim Tingler

22 Sep 2018

Does anyone know the actual number of transactions that have been completed by a notary in a given year? I realize this is a difficult question to answer as most documents do not get recorded with any government and many states don’t even require a journal. Perhaps taking an average per notary of 100 or 200 per year would be a good way to back into a number between 440m and 880m per year based on 4.4 m notaries. What do you think?

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