Study: Contribution of small, medium-sized and large businesses to gross domestic product in 2005

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The study "Small, Medium-sized and Large Businesses in the Canadian Economy: Measuring Their Contribution to Gross Domestic Product in 2005" provides the first estimates of gross domestic product (GDP) in the business sector based on firm size.

Small and medium-sized businesses, that is, those with fewer than 500 employees, accounted for just over one-half of GDP in the business sector in 2005.

In this study, a firm is defined as an aggregation of all enterprises controlled through majority ownership by a parent enterprise.

In 2005, small and medium-sized businesses, including unincorporated businesses, represented 54.3% of GDP produced in the business sector. Large firms with 500 or more employees accounted for 45.7%.

The share of GDP represented by large businesses varied across the components of GDP. Large businesses accounted for the majority of operating surplus and supplementary labour income, but for less than half of overall labour income and indirect taxes less subsidies.

One reason for this is that small and medium-sized businesses are more labour intensive. They accounted for 58.1% of the labour income component of GDP and for 40.1% of the operating surplus, the component associated with the return to capital.

The share of GDP attributable to large businesses also varied widely by industry. Large firms accounted for a substantial share of production (more than 50% of GDP) in utilities, information, mining and oil and gas, manufacturing, and transportation and warehousing.

Large businesses accounted for a relatively smaller share (less than 10% of GDP) in construction, other services, education, health, and agriculture, forestry and fishing.

The study "Small, Medium-sized and Large Businesses in the Canadian Economy: Measuring Their Contribution to Gross Domestic Product in 2005," part of the Economic Analysis (EA) Research Paper Series (11F0027M2011069, free), is now available from the Key resource module of our website under Publications.

Similar studies from the Economic Analysis Division are also available online (

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Danny Leung (613-951-2574) or Luke Rispoli (613-951-6407), Economic Analysis Division.