Author: Josh Levy
Small businesses are often celebrated as the “lifeblood” of the economy for their oversized role in job creation, innovation and contributions to overall GDP. But how many people actually work at one? According to data from the US Census Bureau's Quarterly Workforce Indicators, small businesses (usually defined by the Small Business Administration as those with fewer than 500 employees) accounted for 45% of private sector employment (or 1.78 million jobs) in North Carolina in the second quarter of 2022. Large businesses accounted for the remaining 55% of private sector employment.
NC Employment by Firm Size, 2022 Q2
(All Private Ownership)
Source: US Census Bureau, Quarterly Workforce Indicators
Within the category of small businesses, firms with fewer than 20 employees held the largest share of total private employment in North Carolina, at 18%, followed by firms with 50 to 249 employees at 13%, and those with 20 to 40 workers at 10%. Only a small of private sector employment percentage, less than 5%, was at firms with 250 to 499 workers. These employment shares have remained relatively stable since 1993, although the percentage of employment at large businesses has increased from around 50% to 55%.
This trend is mirrored at the national level, with 48% of US private employment at small businesses. So regardless of the other contributions of small businesses, these findings highlight the crucial role they play in employing large numbers of workers in North Carolina and across the country.