A Snapshot of Oregon Firms by Size Class, 2022

by Gail Krumenauer

December 8, 2022

In the first quarter of 2022, Oregon had about 147,300 firms that were subject to paying unemployment insurance taxes. Almost 112,700 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 fewer than 50 employees. While that left only 4,600 firms (or 4%) with 50+ employees, these larger companies employed the majority (60%) of all workers, and accounted for two-thirds (67%) of all wages paid in Oregon.

There were nearly 112,700 private firms with fewer than 50 employees in March 2022. Most of them had between one and four employees. The smallest payroll employers in Oregon were mighty in number, totaling 68,700, 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 2022 and 7% of total wages paid in the first quarter of 2022. On the other hand, the 305 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.

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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