Nine out of 10 private-sector firms in Oregon had fewer than 20 employees in March 2014. Six out of 10 employed fewer than five workers.
Despite their quantity, smaller firms collectively account for a much smaller share of overall employment than their larger counterparts. For example, the 59 percent of firms with one to four employees represented nearly 8 percent of covered employment and 6 percent of wages in March 2014. On the other hand, the 0.3 percent of firms with at least 500 employees accounted for nearly 27 percent of private-sector jobs and 36 percent of wages.
These distributions tend to remain stable from one year to the next, even as the overall number of firms, employees, and wages expands or contracts. This doesn’t mean that smaller firms are underperforming when it comes to job creation, or that larger firms are experiencing a bonanza. Size of firm data does not provide us with information about the dynamics underlying employment changes. Instead, it offers a snapshot that can help us understand the roles of small and large firms in Oregon’s economy at a specific point in time.