Big fish/small fish

It’s a slow news day so I thought I’d serve up a few statistics for your edification.  The data below is based on Statistics Canada’s Canadian Business Patterns which keeps track of the number and size of businesses in over 700 NAICS industry groups in Canada.

The first chart shows the total number of businesses per 1,000 population and the change over the six year period.  New Brunswick significantly underperformed in this area but our losses were mitigated somewhat because of a slight decline in population.  New Brunswick saw an absolute decline of 7.5% while Alberta saw an increase of 11.2% but when we adjust for population you get this rate of change.

Statistics Canada looks at company size as well.  It is important to point out that this chart is based on companies where size has been identified (employment size).  Statistics Canada cannot identify the size of about 40% of New Brunswick companies.  This likely means they are very small one person shops.

Of those where employment levels are known, there has been a 5.7% drop in the number of small businesses with less than 10 employees.  The economies that have been the strongest in recent years saw the largest rate of growth of small companies (Alberta, BC, Ontario) with the notable exception of Saskatchewan – not sure what is going on there. 

You know where I am going with this.  I continue to maintain that strong economies have the right amount of larger businesses to anchor the economy and that small businesses feed off that ecosystem.   When you lose or don’t have the larger businesses, the economy’s ecosystem struggles.  There are certainly far more issues at play than just size, but I still think size matters.

Alberta has the largest percentage of businesses with more than 100 employees followed by Ontario.  New Brunswick has 23% less businesses with over 100 employees than Alberta.

Some day when I have time, I will do more work on this thesis.

2 thoughts on “Big fish/small fish

  1. Of particular interest is Saskatchewan who have a similar population to NB (about 20% larger) and a similar economy (resource based). They do not have a port nor a fisheries but a lot of other simularities with mining, agriculture, potash, forestry etc. Ok, they do have some oil.

    However, they have a focused government with minimal duplication, effective innovation and a commitment to economic development. This is resulting in a growing population,and a growing economy.

    As an indicator, look at the quantity and quality of jobs at (>6000) and at (850).

    Methinks we could learn something from our friends in Saskatchewan.

  2. The western provinces are VERY unlike eastern ones. Corporations contribute 15% of the budget of Saskatchewan, in NB its 3% and falling. The only real similarity in resources is potash. Politically Saskatchewan is bizarre, with the Sask party and the NDP being leaps ahead of anyone. As for ‘learning’, I’d agree. Public insurance has been a real boon for the province and keeps tens of millions of dollars in the province, rather than sending it to ontario and the US. Their oil refinery is a Co-op, which has a very different structure than Irvings. Their public television station is one of the best in the country. Some of their gain in agricultural research is sure to be short lived, they are currently undergoing the corporatization of agriculture that New Brunswick went through a few decades ago, and while it makes for short term gains, long term isn’t quite as rosy.

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