Employees by Class Size, U.S., Part 1, the Basics

It is often said that most jobs are created by small business.  I usually take this as propaganda by the latest political candidate, but I decided to look into, you know, actual statistics.  First, I found data from the U.S. Statistical Abstract, and it wasn’t detailed enough for me, so I went ‘ahunting at the County Business Patterns reports, one of the auxiliary report series the BOC puts out in coordination with many other federal agencies.

NOTE:  You can get a larger, more readable view of these graphs by double-clicking on them.

This is the first in a short series, because the detail would be just too much for one post.  So, here are two graphs: one showing the number of employees in each of five size classes the reports present, and the second showing a trend line comparing the different class sizes.

Notice that most of the employees in the U.S. work in small businesses.  In fact, between 71% and 74% of all employees in the U.S. work in establishments smaller than 500 persons.

The next question was, how has this ranking changed over time?  The answer is, well, not much.  Looking at the graph below, you can see that the greatest number of employees have worked in establishments of between 20 and 99 persons in the period from 1980 to 2004.

Coming soon, some other graphs I did on the percentage distribution of these statistics, and a comparison of the percentage of persons with the percentage of payrolls in each size class.  It will probably surprise you as it did me. And it raised more questions that it provided answers.

More to follow…


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