Saturday’s AFR ($) featured a discussion with anti-union campaigner Ken Phillips, which included the following snippet:

Large firms – “bureaucracies” captured by senior staff – employ far fewer people in aggregate than small business, yet dominate economists’ thinking, he argues.

This claim is not supported by the data.

Over half (55.5%) of all employees work for businesses that have 100 or more employees. Nearly two-thirds (63.3%) work for employers with at least 50 employees. If you exclude owner-managers of incorporated enterprises (OMIEs), these percentages are a little larger. Around a quarter of employees work for an business with fewer than 20 employees.

Proportion of employees by employer size

Small business

Source: ABS 6306Employee Earnings and Hours. The ‘excluding OMIEs’ figures are from Table 1. The total figures are from unpublished data.

Small business is very important. Nevertheless, most Australians work in larger firms.