First Quarter Wages and Employment by Industry for Small Businesses Using Establishment-Based Size Classes, 2012–2021 (PDF)

Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, disaggregated by number of employees in an establishment, are used to estimate first quarter wages and employment by industry for small, medium, and large businesses between 2012 and 2021. This is the first set of size class estimates from the Bureau of Economic Analysis that are based on the number of employees at an establishment, or individual business location, as opposed to the total number of employees in a company or enterprise. The distributions of wages and employment by establishment size class tell a different story about the composition and scope of small businesses in the U.S. compared to enterprise-based small business statistics. Establishment-based size classes show almost half (48.6 percent) of 2017q1 wages were generated by businesses with less than 100 employees, but enterprise-based size classes put this share at only 28.4 percent. Additionally, the establishment classification shows only 16.4 percent of wages were attributable to businesses with 500 or more employees, while the enterprise classification shows 52.1 percent, corresponding to the strong influence multi-establishment companies have in many industries. These differences underscore the importance of considering classification when interpreting small business statistics.


Tina Highfill and Richard Cao

JEL Code(s) E01 O51 Published