Overview - SMEs

Small and medium-sized enterprises are the engine of the German economy. This is illustrated by statistical data on the macro-economic significance of SMEs and by SME key indicators for Germany and North Rhine-Westphalia (cf. the table below). The following data are based on IfM Bonn's definition of SMEs.

Please note that we currently provide only a selection of the most important statistics on our English website.

For further statistics, please refer to our German section.

  • Macro-economic significance of SMEs

    • Germany
    • NRW

    Macro-economic significance of SMEs - Germany

       

    • In 2016, approx. 3.46 million German enterprises classified as small and medium-sized enterprises, accounting for 99.5% of the total number of enterprises with turnover from goods and services and/or employees subject to social insurance contributions.
    •  

       

    • German SMEs generated an annual turnover of approx. 2 273 bn € in 2016, which represents 35.3% of the total turnover of German enterprises.  
    •  

       

    • Approx. 17.18 million employees subject to social insurance contributions were employed by SMEs in Germany in 2016, accounting for 58.3% of total employment (subject to social insurance contributions).
    •  

       

    • At the end of 2016, some 82.0% of all apprentices were trained by companies with less than 500 employees (subject to social insurance contribution).
    •  

       

    • Export turnover of German SMEs added up to approx. 208.2 bn € in 2016, accounting for 17.0% of the total German export turnover.
    •  

       

    • German SMEs had a share of almost 53.5% in total net value added in Germany in 2016.
    •  

       

    • Businesses with less than 500 employees spent 9.4 bn € on R&D, equal to a share of 11.9% in total R&D expenditures in the business sector in 2016.
    •  

    Macro-economic significance of SMEs - NRW

       

    • In 2016, approx. 712 100 enterprises classified as small and medium-sized enterprises in North Rhine-Westphalia, accounting for 99.5% of the total number of enterprises with turnover from goods and services and/or employees subject to social insurance contributions.
    •  

    • SMEs in North Rhine-Westphalia generated an annual turnover of approx. 499.26 bn € in 2016 which represents 35.1% of the total turnover of all enterprises subject to turnover tax in North Rhine-Westphalia (cf. Germany:2 263.42 bn € and 37.2% of total turnover).*
    •  

    • SMEs in North Rhine-Westphalia employed approx. 3.63 million employees subject to social insurance contributions in 2016, accounting for a share of 54.0% in total employment (subject to social insurance contributions).
    •  

    • Some 82.4% of all apprentices were trained by companies with less than 500 employees subject to social insurance contributions at the end of 2016.
    •  

    * Data from VAT-Statistics 2016. SME classification only by turnover size.

  • Key indicators based on SME definition by IfM Bonn

    • Germany
    • NRW

    Key indicators - Germany

      Total1 SMEs1 SME-Share1 
    Number of enterprises      
    Enterprises according to
    business register 20162
    3 476 193 3 460 274 99.5%
    Enterprises liable to VAT 20163 3 266 429 3 254 129 99.6%
    Enterprise turnover      
    Turnover of enterprises
    according to business
    register 20162 (in €)
    6 432.64 bn 2 272.92 bn 35.3%
    Turnover of enterprises
    liable to VAT 20163 (in €)
    6 088.29 bn 2 263.42 bn 37.2%
    Employees/Apprentices in
    enterprises and companies
         
    Employees subject to social
    insurance contributions in
    enterprises according to
    business register 20162
    29.49 m 17.18 m 58.3%
    Employees subject to social
    insurance contributions in local
    units/establishments (incl.
    apprentices) (31.12.2016)4
    30.02 m 23.67 m 78.8%
    Apprentices in local units/
    establishments (31.12.2016)4,5
    1.51 m 1.24 m 82.0%
    Self-employed      
    Self-employed total 20166 4.14 m    
    thereof:
    Self-employed in liberal
    professions (01.01.2017)7
    1.38 m    
    Self-employment rate
    20166, 8
    10.0 %    
    reporting:
    Self-employed except
    agriculture 20169
    3.95 m    
    Self-employment rate
    except agriculture 20168, 9
    9.7 %    
    Economic Performance      
    Net value added of enterprises
    201610
         53.5%
    Research and Development      
    R&D-Expenses of the companies
    201611
    79.1 bn 9.4 bn  11.9%
          © IfM Bonn

    Notes

    Sources: Federal Statistical Office; Federal Employment Agency; Institute for Liberal Professions Nuremberg; Science statistics of the Stifterverband; Calculations by IfM Bonn, 06/2018.

     

    Key indicators - NRW

      Total1 KMU1 SME-Share1
    Number of enterprises      
    Enterprises according to
    business register 20162
    716 044 712 128 99.5%
    Enterprises liable to VAT 20163 668 241 665 206 99.5%
    Enterprise turnover      
    Turnover of enterprises liable
    to VAT 20163 (in €)
    1 422.68 bn 499.26 bn 35.1%
    Employees/Apprentices in
    enterprises and companies
         
    Employees subject to social
    insurance contributions in
    enterprises according to
    business register 20162
    6.72 m 3.63 m 54.0%
    Employees subject to social
    insurance contributions in
    enterprises according to
    business register (incl.
    apprentices) (31.12.2016)4
    6.31 m 4.97 m 78.8%
    Apprentices in local units/
    establishments (31.12.2016)4,5
    342 798 282 411 82.4%
    Self-employed      
    Self-employed total 20166 820 000    
    thereof:
    Self-employed in liberal
    professions (01.01.2016)7
    259 000    
    Self-employment rate
    20166, 8
    9.5%    
    reporting:
    Self-employed except
    agriculture 20169
    800 000    
    Self-employment rate
    except agriculture 20168, 9
    9.3%    
           © IfM Bonn 

    Notes

     

    Sources: Federal Statistical Office; Federal Employment Agency; Institute for Liberal Professions Nuremberg; Calculations by IfM Bonn, 06/2018.

    Kennzahlen - Weitere Informationen

    Tables for further indicators

    Export key indicators

    Updating

    Key indicators are being updated on a regular basis. The update schedule depends on the availability of basic data from official/semi-official statistics published by statistical agencies and research institutes respectively. 

    Kennzahlen - Ansprechpartner

    Contact Person

  • Self-employment monitor

    Self-employment monitor

    Background

    After the previous publisher of the self-employment monitor, Prof. Dr. Michael-Burkhard Piorkowsky (Rheinische Friedrich Wilhelm Universität Bonn), has retired, the IfM Bonn has assumed this task and publishes this report in cooperation with the Federal statistical Office from autum/winter 2015 on a yearly basis. Based on micro-census data, the self-employment monitor analyses the current development of self-employed individuals and start-ups.

    Survey Design

    The analyses of the self-employment monitor are based on the evaluation of the entire data record of the micro-census provided by the Federal statistical Office. The calculations take the new extrapolation factor based on the 2011 census into account. The independent monitor distinguishes between self-employed individuals in a primary and exclusive employment and self-employed individuals in a secondary employment (so-called supplementary income activity). The former – the primary and exclusive employment – is furthur differentiated between full-time activity and part-time activity.

    Self-employed individuals/liberal professionals

    The researchers of IfM Bonn use the statistical data on the self-employed individuals on the basis of the micro-census, which the Federal statistical Office issues annually.

    Liberal professionals represent a specific group among the self-employed individuals. In the official statistics, this group is described inadequately due to the application of different definitions of self-employment. The statistical information as provided by IfM Bonn is mainly based on the evaluations of IFB Institut der freien Berufe.

    Self-employment monitor - Veröffentlichungen

    • New Publications
    Self-employment monitor 2014

    Suprinovič, O.; Norkina, A. (2015): Selbstständigen-Montitor 2014: Selbstständige in Deutschland 2011 bis 2014, hrsg. Institut für Mittelstandsforschung Bonn, Statistisches Bundesamt, Bonn.

    Self-employment monitor - Ansprechpartner