Most Oregon Employers Have Fewer than 20 Employees

by Kelvin Valdovinos

March 31, 2020

Nine out of 10 private-sector firms in Oregon had fewer than 20 employees in March 2019. Six out of 10 employed fewer than five.

Despite their quantity, smaller firms collectively account for a much smaller share of overall employment than their larger counterparts. For example, the 59.8 percent of firms with one to four employees represented 7.4 percent of covered employment in March 2019 and 6.2 percent of wages in the first quarter of 2019. On the other hand, the 0.3 percent of firms with at least 500 employees accounted for 28 percent of private-sector jobs and 36.2 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 of job growth. 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.

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