Nearly Half Of Private Workforce Employed By Big Companies

Big companies are also the big heavyweights when it comes to employment, according to new data released this week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

About 46 percent of Americans who work for a private company are employed by a firm with 500 or more employees, according to the most recent BLS data from March of 2011. That translates into approximately 50 million workers, the BLS said.

About 28 percent, or 30.4 million Americans, are working for a company with 49 employees or less, while about 26 percent, or 28.3 million, are working for a company with 50 to 499 employees.

The big employers also have seen the biggest growth in employment over the past two decades, according to the BLS.

As of March of 2011, the smallest companies by employee size were employing about 11 percent more people than in April of 1990, according to the data. Employment at the mid-sized firms is up 13 percent over that time period, while the largest employers have seen employment jump by 29 percent.

“The small size class is fairly flat whereas a lot of the growth is coming in the large firms,” said Nathan Clausen, an economist with the BLS.

Clausen said it doesn’t appear that growth in the bigger companies is coming from small companies getting bigger. Although that happens, he said, it’s also true that larger companies get smaller. That means they’re basically canceling each other out.

Still, he said government economists are just beginning to take a more detailed look at the data, to try to figure out what's behind these trends.

Already, they are finding some interesting things.

For example, Clausen said, in the early 1990s the leisure and hospitality industry was dominated by smaller employers. But in the mid-1990s, larger employers quickly began dominating that industry.

That makes sense to anyone who travels regularly and has seen larger hotel and other chains become much more prevalent.

Clausen said the economists also noticed that during the Internet bubble of the late 1990s and early 2000s, much of the employment growth came not from small employers but from large ones.

That may have been because the startups that got so much attention during that time were snapped up by big firms. Or it may have been because the small employers created a lot of business for the big ones by ordering their products and using their services.

Clausen noted that the data looked narrowly at jobs, so it’s not clear whether the startups were contributing more to the economy in other ways.

“Startups maybe were generating more income, but in terms of jobs … the jobs were being created not in the startups in the large companies,” he said.


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  • by Barlow Location: Winterville on Feb 18, 2012 at 04:34 AM
    This is all the more reason to close the tax loopholes for larger companies. The larger companies can afford the lawyers and accountants AND the lobbyists that help them to avoid paying taxes. The small companies do not have those kind of resources. It is simply wrong that a company like GE that makes billions pays NOTHING in federal taxes. And even worse, Exxon/Mobil actually gets PAID billions in subsidies. It has gotten so bad in this country that the leading candidate for the Republican nomination for President hides money overseas to avoid paying taxes in the country he wants to be president of. This simply has to change. Working people can no longer bear the burden of running the government while others simply set around and get richer and richer.
    • reply
      by Eyes Wide Open on Feb 18, 2012 at 07:12 AM in reply to Barlow
      Barlow, I finally agree with you, it is simply wrong that GE makes billions and pays NOTHING in federal taxes!! The problem I have is the fact that Jeffrey Immelt was sitting in the First Lady's box during an Obama speech to Congress last September!! Obama is always crying "Tax the Rich" and then he invites the head of GE to be his personal guest in a speech to Congress!!!! Can you say "Obama is CORRUPT"???? And for you misinformation, working people are not bearing the burden of running the government, the top 1% of earners are paying 38% of ALL federal taxes!! The federal government took in about $1.9 Trillion in 2010, and divided by the population of about 313 Million people that equals about $6,000 for every man woman and child, so did you pay your "fair share" of $6,000 in federal taxes? The answer is NO!! Almost 50% of all workers did not pay a dime in federal taxes, and now you want to take even more from the ONLY people paying ANYTHING?? And if Romney is hiding money overseas then how to you know about it??? Also, if Obama did receive his tax increase on the rich it would only bring in a little less that $200 Billion per year. Right now he has predicted to add another $1.3 TRILLION to the national debt THIS YEAR ALONE!!! If he got the extra $200 Billion then he would only add $1.1 Trillion to the debt this year, WOW!!! Now that is hope and change!
      • reply
        by Barlow on Feb 18, 2012 at 09:51 AM in reply to Eyes Wide Open
        Where Jeffry Immelt sits has nothing to do with Obama's policies which makes him all the more credible. DESPITE being rich himself, despite those who are rich and contribute to his campaign, He STILL demands he and they pay their fair share and PAY MORE. That is called integrity and not something you know much about on the right. Watch and learn. This country is not going to vote for another Great Recession brought about AGAIN by some greedy little rich boy who knows nothing about the stuggles of the common man. Go back to the country club, we've got work to do here.
        • reply
          by Eyes Wide Open on Feb 18, 2012 at 12:30 PM in reply to Barlow
          Don't you know who Jeffrey Immelt is??? He is the CEO of GE, the company that you said is not paying any taxes. Obama has not DEMANDED that GE pay anything!!!! Obama is protecting the top 1%, because those are HIS friends!!!! All of the greedy people who you complain about so much are Obama's friends!!!! Wake up!!! Who spends more time at the country club than OBAMA?????? Obama is ONLY person running for office that does not care about anyone but his top 1% friends and HIMSELF!!! WAKE UP!!!!
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Feb 18, 2012 at 10:51 AM in reply to Eyes Wide Open
        Snake oil, why do you keep changing you name? Are you ashamed of all the stupid comments that you have made? Or, are you trying to distance yourself from that name because you finally will have to eat crow when Obama gets reelected?
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Feb 18, 2012 at 12:07 PM in reply to Eyes Wide Open
        Eyes wide open and Obama snake oil are the same person.
        • reply
          by Eyes Wide Open on Feb 18, 2012 at 12:31 PM in reply to
          Wrong again dumby!! Keep voting Democrat, it has worked so well for you in the past. I know 3 year olds smarter than you!
  • by Anonymous on Feb 18, 2012 at 12:12 AM
    The fear of Obama Care is preventing some small business owners from hiring. They can't afford the cost of Obama Care.
    • reply
      by L&L on Feb 18, 2012 at 04:01 AM in reply to
      I recently learned there are tax credits in the new healthcare law specifically for small businesses that will help them pocket some extra cash. In Michigan, 85.1 percent, or 126,300 small businesses were eligible for a credit in 2010; 39,600 small businesses qualified for the maximum tax credit that year. Unfortunately, I saw a survey from Small Business Majority that said 57 percent of small business owners don't know about the credits. If more small employers took advantage of this opportunity to save money, there would be more cash circulating in our communities also.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Feb 18, 2012 at 07:19 AM in reply to L&L
        Tax credits come and go like the wind. We need sustainable solutions not temporary fixes.
    • reply
      by Thomas on Feb 18, 2012 at 07:27 AM in reply to
      Exactly what is in Obamacare that small business is afraid of? Please "Facts"...not the usual rhetoric.
      • reply
        by Easy One on Feb 18, 2012 at 08:14 AM in reply to Thomas
        The FACT that many, many small mom and pop businesses cannot afford to provide health care for their employees and stay in business and Obamacare forces them to do so. That alone will put thousands of small businesses out of business if not tens of thousands. The company I work for employs about 200 and is considered a small business. We have already been told that we will in all likelihood have to start paying for a portion of our health insurance when Obamacare kicks in and this is a benefit that the company has been able to pay for 100% for over 30 years. The insurance premiums and our co-pays already went up when the policy renewed in 2012. Thank you Obama for taking more money directly out of my pocket for your socialist values. ANYBODY BUT OBAMA 2012!!!!!
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Feb 18, 2012 at 12:10 PM in reply to Easy One
          You still did not answer the question, exactly what in Obamacare hurts Small business?
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Feb 18, 2012 at 09:12 AM in reply to Thomas
        Your answer is the providing of Obama Care to employees.
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