Archived — Key Small Business Statistics - July 2012

How many people work for small businesses?

warning View the most recent version. The following document is out of date.

Archived Information

Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats on the "Contact Us" page.

To best answer this question, it is necessary to look at business establishments as part of the larger enterprise to which they belong, where applicable. Statistics Canada defines a business enterprise as "a family of businesses under common ownership and control for which a set of consolidated financial statements is produced on an annual basis." Statistics Canada's Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH) covers employer businesses in Canada and reports the number of employees at the enterprise level. Self-employed persons who are not on a payroll are not included in these figures, nor are employees in the following industries: agriculture, fishing and trapping, private household services, religious organizations and military personnel of defence services. Firms are grouped into seven size categories: those with fewer than 5 employees, from 5 to 19, from 20 to 49, from 50 to 99, from 100 to 299, from 300 to 499, and 500 and more employees.

According to SEPH data, on average in 2011, just over 5.1 million employees on payroll, or 48 percent of the total private sector labour force,Footnote 6 worked for small enterprises (those with fewer than 100 employees) as shown in Table 5. More than 1.7 million, or 16 percent, worked for medium-sized enterprises (those with 100 to 499 employees). In total, therefore, SMEs employed about 6.9 million, or 64 percent, of private sector employees covered by SEPH.

Table 5: Number of Private Sector Employees by Industry and Size of Business Enterprise, 20111, 2, 3
Industry (Ranked by number of employees in small businesses) Size of Business Enterprise (No. of Employees) Total
0–4 5–19 20–49 50–99 Small
(<100)
100–299 300–499 Medium
(100–499)
Large
(500+)

Source: Statistics Canada, Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH), April 2012, and calculations by Industry Canada. Industry data are classified in accordance with the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).

* Industries in the goods-producing sector account for 24.9 percent of total employment in the private sector and 23.8 percent of employment in small businesses.

Note 1: SEPH data exclude self-employed workers who are not on a payroll, and employees in the following industries: agriculture, fishing and trapping, private household services, religious organizations and military personnel of defence services. The data breaking down employment by size of firm also exclude unclassified industries.

Note 2: Besides data excluded from the SEPH, the data shown in this table also exclude employment in public administration, public utilities (water, sewage and other systems), postal services, public transit, educational services, and institutional and other government-funded health care services, but include employment in the CBC, private practices (physicians, dentists and other health practitioners), and beer and liquor stores. A technical note on the separation of public and private sector employment is available upon request by contacting the Small Business Branch of Industry Canada at SBB-DGPE.

Note 3: By conventional Statistics Canada definition, the goods-producing sector consists of North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes 11 to 31–33, while NAICS codes 41 to 91 define the service-producing sector.

Retail Trade 102,516 279,896 223,394 189,626 795,431 167,266 36,131 203,397 850,272 1,849,100
Accommodation and Food 45,499 238,423 256,631 171,294 711,847 142,764 42,680 185,444 184,245 1,081,535
*Construction 140,101 236,355 151,091 91,010 618,556 96,817 26,174 122,991 107,217 848,763
*Manufacturing 40,294 147,573 179,783 161,970 529,620 264,356 117,175 381,532 571,775 1,482,927
Professional Services 139,833 153,544 97,348 62,945 453,670 83,959 34,390 118,349 205,639 777,658
Other Services 100,457 166,227 74,581 43,624 384,888 56,440 16,481 72,921 57,952 515,761
Wholesale Trade 49,219 136,568 115,616 82,791 384,193 113,121 39,522 152,644 206,423 743,260
Administration, Waste Management 50,415 100,083 76,261 62,212 288,971 99,334 51,496 150,830 301,573 741,374
Health2 78,581 101,668 19,778 4,079 204,107 2,925 1,260 4,185 23,005 231,297
Transportation and Warehousing2 45,545 60,820 48,407 34,869 189,641 48,163 20,333 68,496 295,477 553,614
Real Estate and Rental 43,666 55,826 34,386 22,576 156,454 24,986 9,504 34,490 53,299 244,242
Finance and Insurance 28,757 41,373 35,256 32,454 137,839 51,628 24,864 76,492 470,332 684,662
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation 14,699 36,368 34,980 26,416 112,464 33,790 11,078 44,868 90,071 247,402
Information and Cultural 10,826 21,563 19,397 16,120 67,906 29,898 10,595 40,493 217,818 326,217
Management of Companies and Enterprises 10,686 14,409 12,294 7,740 45,129 9,968 6,078 16,046 42,361 103,535
*Mining 8,721 13,607 11,773 10,732 44,833 20,303 11,223 31,526 130,308 206,667
*Forestry 7,253 11,947 7,660 3,863 30,723 3,732 706 4,437 4,531 39,691
*Utilities2 107 610 643 656 2,015 2,213 1,577 3,790 106,463 112,268
Percent in Service-Producing Sector 78.6 77.4 74.9 73.8 76.2 69.0 66.0 68.2 76.5 75.1
Percent in Goods-Producing Sector 21.4 22.6 25.1 26.2 23.8 31.0 34.0 31.8 23.5 24.9
Industry Aggregate Total 917,175 1,816,860 1,399,277 1,024,975 5,158,287 1,251,661 461,265 1,712,926 3,918,759 10,789,972
Percentage of Total Employment 8.5 16.8 13.0 9.5 47.8 11.6 4.3 15.9 36.3 100.0

The distribution of employment by size of firm varies considerably across industries. As shown in Table 5 and Figure 7, small businesses account for over two thirds of employment in five industries: the (non-institutional) health care sector (88 percent), forestry (77 percent), other services (75 percent), the construction industry (73 percent), and accommodation and food (66 percent). In three other industries, at least half of the workforce is employed by small businesses. Lastly, in terms of the total number of employees, industries that had the largest number of employees working for small firms were, in order of magnitude, retail trade (0.80 million), accommodation and food (0.71 million), construction (0.62 million), manufacturing (0.53 million), professional services (0.45 million) and wholesale trade (0.38 million). These industries alone accounted for 68 percent of all jobs in small firms in Canada.

Figure 7: Number of Private Sector Employees by Industry and Size of Business Enterprise, 20111, 2
Figure 7: Number of Private Sector Employees by Industry and Size of Business Enterprise, 2011[Description of Figure 7]
Source: Statistics Canada, Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH), April 2012, and calculations by Industry Canada. Industry data are classified in accordance with the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).

Note 1: SEPH data exclude self-employed workers who are not on a payroll, and employees in the following industries: agriculture, fishing and trapping, private household services, religious organizations and military personnel of defence services. The data breaking down employment by size of firm also exclude unclassified industries.

Note 2: Besides the data excluded from the SEPH, the data shown in this figure also exclude employment in public administration, public utilities (water, sewage and other systems), postal services, public transit, educational services, and institutional and other government-funded health care services, but include employment in the CBC, private practices (physicians, dentists and other health practitioners), and beer and liquor stores. A technical note on the separation of public and private sector employment is available upon request by contacting the Small Business Branch of Industry Canada at SBB-DGPE.

Footnotes

Footnote 6

A technical note on the methodology used to determine the private sector has been revised in 2011 and can be obtained by contacting the Small Business Branch of Industry Canada at SBB-DGPE. In addition to the industries excluded from SEPH (see Note 1, Table 5), data shown in Table 5 and Figure 7 exclude employment in public administration, public utilities (water, sewage and other systems), postal services, public transit, educational services, and institutional and other government funded health care services, but include employment in the CBC, private practices (physicians, dentists and other health practitioners), and beer and liquor stores.

Return to footnote 6 referrer