Southwestern Oregon Has a High Percentage of Small Businesses

by Carlos Diaz

May 11, 2023

Southwestern Oregon consists of three areas: Coos, Curry, and Douglas counties. This region has a high concentration of small businesses, but this is fairly typical for rural areas. There were about 5,200 private-sector firms within the Southwestern Oregon area in the first quarter of 2022. Four out of five firms (4,357 firms) in the area have nine or fewer employees and only 2.2% (116 firms) have 50 or more employees. Southwestern Oregon’s business composition reaffirms the notion that their local economies are grounded in small business. The largest share of firms (46.4%) have one to four employees.
Graph showing Southwestern Oregon private firm size distribution, Coos, Curry, and Douglas - First quarter 2022

Even with the high percentage of small businesses in Southwestern Oregon, about 65% of the area’s approximately 45,000 private jobs are in larger firms with 20 or more employees. These larger firms employed 29,145 workers, while smaller firms (fewer than 20 employees) employed 15,564 workers. About 11% of jobs are in micro businesses with one to four employees and the remaining 24% of jobs are in firms with five to 19 employees. This report only looks at private-sector jobs but it’s important to keep in mind that public-sector jobs play a big role for the Southwestern labor market. There were about 13,650 government related jobs in the first quarter of 2022.
Graph showing about 65% of Southwestern Oregon's private employment comes from larger employers (20+ employees)

Curry County is unique because it doesn’t follow the regional employment distribution trend. Instead of larger firms (20+ employees) holding the majority share of private workers, smaller firms (less than 20 employees) employ 52% of workers. A fairly even split of employment (52%/48%) exists between smaller and larger firms, which emphasizes how crucial small businesses are for the county and region.

Notes and Limitations:

Some data values were unavailable due to confidentiality.

These data offer valuable insight into Oregon’s local economies at specific points in time, but there are certain limitations. The data doesn’t describe dynamic processes such as job creation by firms of a particular size from one quarter to the next.

Another thing to note is about firms classified under “size class zero”. There are a number of reasons why a firm might be counted in size class zero: (1) an employer might have no employees for one or more quarters, which is common among industries with strong seasonality components and temporary hiring patterns; (2) a firm with employment and payroll in a particular quarter reported zero employees in the third month of the quarter, causing that firm to classify as size class zero; and (3) situations where wages are paid to employees who are not counted in the current quarter’s employment. This happens when workers are paid daily, when residual payments are made, or during events such as merges, acquisitions, and reorganizations.

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