Employment by enterprise size

Key findings

  • Although large enterprises represent only less than 1% of the total population of enterprises, they account for a significantly higher share of employment – between 47% of persons employed in the business sector in the United Kingdom and 12% in Greece. On average, across OECD countries large enterprises account for around 40% of total manufacturing employment while in services they account for around 25 %.

  • Between 2008 and 2014, employment in manufacturing decreased in all but two OECD countries, Luxembourg and Germany, mainly reflecting declines in the number of enterprises, both SMEs and large. Employment levels in countries hit hardest by the crisis remained below 2008 levels in 2014, with SMEs in particular bearing the brunt of the contraction. Similarly, in most economies where employment surpassed pre-crisis highs, SMEs were the main drivers of growth. In the United States however, large service sector enterprises have driven post-crisis employment growth.

  • Within manufacturing, employment growth in large enterprises in the euro area, which were less affected by the crisis than SMEs, has continued to outperform that for SMEs, whereas in the United States the opposite has been the case.

Relevance

SMEs are an important driver of employment growth, but can also be more vulnerable to downturns. A better understanding of employment distributions provides important insights on underlying resilience and job-security, and also potential employment growth. When factored with data on average salaries, which typically show lower salaries the smaller the firm, distributional data can shed light on income inequalities.

Definitions

The number of persons employed corresponds to the total number of persons who worked for the observation unit during the reference year, including working proprietors, partners working regularly in the unit and unpaid family workers. It excludes directors of incorporated enterprises and members of shareholders’ committees who are paid solely for their attendance at meetings, labour force made available to the concerned unit by other units and charged for, persons carrying out repair and maintenance work in the unit on the behalf of other units, and home workers. It also excludes persons on indefinite leave, military leave or those whose only remuneration from the enterprise is by way of a pension.

The total change in the number of persons employed is decomposed into four drivers: changes in the number of SMEs and large enterprises, and changes in the average size of SMEs and large enterprises.

The contribution generated by the change in the number of SMEs is calculated as the product of the difference in the number of SMEs between 2008 and 2014 and the average SME size in 2008. The contribution generated by the change in the average size of SMEs is calculated as the product of the difference of the average SME size between 2008 and 2014 and the number of SMEs in 2014. Both contributions are calculated analogously for large enterprises. The relative share of each contribution is the absolute contribution expressed as a percentage of the total change in the number of persons employed (i.e. the sum of all absolute contributions).

Average employment in an enterprise size class is the number of persons employed in a size class divided by the number of enterprises in a size class, in a given economic sector.

Information on data for Israel: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888932315602.

Comparability

All countries present information using the enterprise as the statistical unit except Korea and Mexico, which use establishments. Data on employment in all countries refer to the number of persons employed except for: Switzerland, where data exclude employment in enterprises with less than 3 persons employed; and Canada, Israel, Japan, Korea, the United States and the Russian Federation, where data refer to employees. Estimates of non-employer enterprises in the business economy amount to approximately 1.7 million in Canada, 15.3 million in the United States, and 2.5 million in the Russian Federation.

Data for the United Kingdom exclude employment in (an estimated) 2.6 million small unregistered businesses that are below the thresholds of the value-added tax regime and/or the “pay as you earn (PAYE)” (for employing firms) regime.

Some countries use different conventions concerning the size-class breakdown: the size class “1-9” refers to “1-10” for Mexico and “1-19” for Australia, Canada and Turkey; the size class “10-19” refers to “11-50” for Mexico; the size class “50-249” refers to “20-199” for Australia, “51-250” for Mexico, “50-299” for Canada, Japan and Korea; finally, the size class “250+” refers to “200+” for Australia, “300+” for Canada, Japan and Korea and “251+” for Mexico.

Some care is needed when interpreting changes over time, as the data do not track cohorts of firms. Shrinkages in large firms may lead to them subsequently being recorded as SMEs and, correspondingly, expansions in SMEs may result in them being classified as large enterprises.

Source

OECD Structural and Demographic Business Statistics (SDBS) (database), http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/sdbs-data-en.

Further reading

OECD (2017), Small, Medium, Strong. Trends in SME Performance and Business Conditions, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264275683-en.

Figure 2.8. Employment by enterprise size, Euro area and United States
Number of jobs, 2008 = 100
picture

 http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933563189

Figure 2.9. Employment by enterprise size, business economy
Percentage of total employment, 2014, or latest available year
picture

 http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933563208

Table 2.2. Employment by enterprise size, business economy
2014, or latest available year

Country

1-9

10-19

20-49

50-249

250+

Total

Australia

3,526,000

1,859,000

2,541,000

7,926,000

Austria

692,580

302,047

355,028

519,675

843,661

2,712,991

Belgium

946,348

232,801

316,460

404,696

801,748

2,702,053

Brazil

7,787,469

3,661,851

4,258,283

5,527,970

12,954,846

34,190,419

Canada

2,381,568

1,382,103

2,320,477

4,429,641

10,513,789

CzechRepublic

1,108,872

254,141

356,862

671,844

1,100,426

3,492,145

Denmark

334,699

156,685

216,595

344,423

581,782

1,634,184

Estonia

124,549

41,632

55,263

94,830

85,736

402,010

Finland

366,248

145,587

179,851

260,668

511,812

1,464,166

France

4,799,169

1,176,958

1,602,109

2,206,025

5,672,971

15,457,232

Germany

5,558,583

3,043,919

3,377,932

5,516,994

10,241,981

27,739,409

Greece

1,276,724

206,287

187,379

228,794

249,678

2,148,862

Hungary

852,339

223,372

250,067

405,303

728,848

2,459,929

Ireland

363,428

126,923

154,828

239,185

337,178

1,221,542

Israel

458,069

227,705

309,210

469,332

813,522

2,277,838

Italy

6,469,991

1,531,284

1,356,694

1,799,667

2,951,263

14,108,899

Japan

4,607,136

2,789,088

3,907,695

7,297,740

16,626,035

35,227,694

Korea

6,528,613

1,624,470

2,055,787

2,903,018

1,924,597

15,036,485

Latvia

196,115

63,122

88,957

140,615

128,651

617,460

Lithuania

250,168

93,916

125,271

203,336

212,164

884,855

Luxembourg

45,263

25,632

34,569

41,649

58,856

205,969

Mexico

5,670,630

2,328,081

1,499,174

3,077,857

5,942,343

18,518,085

Netherlands

1,537,522

424,692

579,738

956,911

1,787,609

5,286,472

NewZealand

268,655

167,209

194,173

287,310

394,720

1,312,067

Norway

367,681

177,626

204,653

299,511

517,052

1,566,523

Poland

3,031,711

486,859

690,145

1,517,269

2,655,280

8,381,264

Portugal

1,200,901

266,943

320,986

462,714

632,845

2,884,389

Romania

877,379

356,873

486,767

793,666

1,308,907

3,823,592

Russian Federation

255,837

363,909

892,153

4,588,166

12,366,162

18,466,227

Slovak Republic

579,089

89,648

114,156

229,617

405,531

1,418,041

Slovenia

203,000

39,808

49,745

110,653

151,632

554,838

Spain

4,325,165

916,784

1,078,404

1,407,623

2,875,335

10,603,311

Sweden

768,683

288,919

376,499

559,952

1,011,281

3,005,334

Switzerland

481,764

346,787

409,103

634,678

911,757

2,784,089

Turkey

5,097,885

1,689,941

2,439,017

3,255,113

12,481,956

UnitedKingdom

3,301,459

1,556,195

2,011,219

2,920,352

8,654,750

18,443,975

UnitedStates

9,245,888

6,048,538

8,918,826

13,305,796

53,250,192

90,769,240

 http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933565013

Figure 2.10. Employment by enterprise size, main sectors
Percentage of total employment in sector, 2014, or latest available year
picture

 http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933563227

Figure 2.11. Employment in SMEs and large enterprises by economic activity
Percentage of business economy employment in size class, 2014, or latest available year
picture

 http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933563246

Figure 2.12. Change in employment, business economy
Contributions and percentage change between 2008 and 2014
picture

 http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933563265

Figure 2.13. Change in employment, by main sector
Contributions and percentage change between 2008 and 2014
picture

 http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933563284

Table 2.3. Average employment by main sector and enterprise size
Employment per enterprise, number of individuals, 2014, or latest available year

Country

Manufacturing

Services

Construction

1-9

10-49

50-249

250+

1-9

10-49

50-249

250+

1-9

10-49

50-249

250+

AUT

3

21

110

644

2

18

97

969

3

19

92

680

BEL

2

22

106

716

2

20

101

1,142

2

20

99

464

BRA

4

20

100

1,090

3

19

102

1,156

4

21

109

811

CHE

5

20

105

701

5

18

95

876

5

21

98

625

CZE

1

22

108

674

1

18

99

872

1

19

94

634

DEU

4

20

107

920

3

19

96

953

3

17

87

585

DNK

3

21

103

869

2

20

96

949

2

19

92

617

ESP

2

21

101

707

2

18

98

1,180

2

19

95

995

EST

3

22

97

446

2

19

91

607

3

18

76

356

FIN

2

21

102

826

2

19

95

931

2

19

90

926

FRA

2

24

117

1,010

2

24

115

1,492

2

21

99

1,652

GBR

2

23

111

764

2

21

107

1,642

2

22

107

907

GRC

2

21

106

513

2

17

94

852

2

18

91

539

HUN

2

21

105

764

2

18

95

1,056

2

18

90

531

IRL

2

21

104

584

2

19

95

892

1

18

82

473

ISR

2

21

101

757

1

20

96

988

2

18

86

453

ITA

3

19

97

717

2

17

98

1,154

2

17

87

607

JPN

2

21

107

1,443

2

20

107

1,314

2

18

95

1,045

KOR

3

35

99

1,048

3

27

102

725

2

28

101

668

LTU

2

22

101

501

2

18

87

840

1

20

92

415

LUX

3

16

111

741

2

16

53

353

2

21

94

337

LVA

2

21

96

458

2

19

94

743

2

20

94

346

MEX

2

14

115

766

2

13

102

755

3

19

101

570

NLD

2

24

110

645

2

26

123

1,413

1

20

96

784

NOR

2

21

101

794

1

18

99

793

2

19

89

776

NZL

4

20

100

711

3

19

101

825

3

18

91

891

POL

2

22

110

667

2

20

100

1,014

2

20

95

632

PRT

2

21

98

527

2

18

96

1,072

2

18

94

786

ROU

3

22

105

700

2

19

98

914

2

20

98

603

SVK

1

20

109

748

2

19

101

825

1

19

86

608

SVN

2

20

108

701

2

18

97

813

2

18

87

345

SWE

2

23

112

953

1

22

109

1,099

2

21

96

1,352

TUR

103

675

100

865

95

453

USA

3

21

101

1,501

3

20

96

2,150

2

20

93

903

 http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933565032

Figure 2.14. Evolution of average size of SMEs and large enterprises
2008 = 100
picture

 http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933563303