A Snapshot of Oregon Firms by Size Class, 2023

by Gail Krumenauer

November 3, 2023

In the first quarter of 2023, Oregon had nearly 165,000 private firms that were subject to paying unemployment insurance taxes. About 114,500 of these firms had at least one payroll employee in March.

More than 19 out of 20 firms (or 96%) with workers on their payrolls had less than 50 employees. While that left only 4,700 firms (or 4%) with 50+ employees, they employed the majority (61%) of all workers and accounted for two-thirds (or 67%) of all wages paid in Oregon.
Table showing Oregon Firms with Payroll Employees, and Total Wages by Size Class, First Quarter 2023 (Private Sector)

Firms with Fewer than 50 Employees

There were 109,800 firms with fewer than 50 employees in Oregon in March 2023. They accounted for 96% of all firms statewide. Most of them had between one and four employees. The smallest payroll employers in Oregon were mighty in number, totaling 70,400, or 61% of all firms in the state.

Despite their quantity, smaller firms collectively account for a much smaller share of overall employment than their larger counterparts. For example, the 61% of firms with one to four employees represented almost 8% of covered employment in March 2023 and 7% of total wages paid in the first quarter of 2023. On the other hand, the 319 largest firms in Oregon had at least 500 employees. The largest employers accounted for less than 1% of all private firms in the state, yet they employed 28% of private-sector employees, and paid 34% of the state’s total wages.
Graph showing Shares of All Oregon Private Firms, Employees, and Total Wages by Size Class, First Quarter 2023

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. Rather than providing us with information about the dynamics of job growth, size of firm data offers a snapshot of small and large firms in Oregon’s economy at a specific point in time.

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