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Job Creation by Company Size Class: Concentration and Persistence of Job Gains and Losses in Canadian Companies

Listed author(s):
  • Dupuy, Richard
  • Picot, Garnett
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    The statistical observation that small firms have created the majority of new jobs during the 1980s has had a tremendous influence on public policy. Governmentshave looked to the small firm sector for employment growth, and have promoted policies to augment this expansion. However, recent research in the US suggeststhat net job creation in the small firm sector may have been overestimated, relative to that in large firms. The first part of this paper addresses various measurement issues raised in the recent research, and uses a very unique Canadian longitudinal data set thatencompasses all companies in the Canadian economy to reassess the issue of job creation by firm size. We conclude that over the 1978-92 period, for both theentire Canadian economy and the manufacturing sector, the growth rate of net and gross employment decreases monotonically as the size of firm increases, no matterwhich method of sizing firms is used. Measurement does matter, however, as the magnitude of the difference in the growth rates of small and large firms is verysensitive to the measurement approaches used. Part one of the paper also produces results for various industrial sectors, and examines employment growth inexisting small and large firms (i.e., excluding births). It is found that employment growth in the population of existing small and large firms is very similar. Finallyattempts are made to introduce a job quality aspect to the numbers by using payroll distributions rather than employment. The net and gross rates of increase anddecrease in payrolls by firm size are found to be only marginally different than those of employment. The second part of the paper looks at concentration of employment creation and destruction within size classes. This is relevant because if growth is highlyconcentrated, knowing that a firm is small will provide little information about its prospects for growth. Most small firms would grow relatively little, or decline, whilea few expanded a lot. It is found that both job creation and destruction is highly concentrated among relatively few firms in all size groups, but it is greater amongsmall and mid-sized companies than large. Finally attempts are made to correlate the performance of businesses over two three-year periods. It is found thatknowing that a firm is a high performer (in terms of jobs created) over one period is of only limited value in determining growth in the second period. This isparticularly true among small firms. These results suggest that firms which expand rapidly during one period are replaced to some considerable degree by others inthe subsequent period.

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    Paper provided by Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch in its series Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series with number 1996093e.

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    Date of creation: 17 Jul 1997
    Handle: RePEc:stc:stcp3e:1996093e
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    1. Davis, Steven J & Haltiwanger, John & Schuh, Scott, 1996. "Small Business and Job Creation: Dissecting the Myth and Reassessing the Facts," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 8(4), pages 297-315, August.
    2. Baldwin, John & Picot, Garnett, 1995. "Employment Generation by Small Producers in the Canadian Manufacturing Sector," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 317-331, August.
    3. Rene Morissette, 1993. "Canadian Jobs and Firm Size: Do Smaller Firms Pay Less?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 26(1), pages 159-174, February.
    4. Steven J. Davis & John Haltiwanger, 1992. "Gross Job Creation, Gross Job Destruction, and Employment Reallocation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 819-863.
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