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Background Notes

This release covers the reference year 2017, however data on enterprise deaths relates to 2016. Statistics are also provided on enterprise births since 2012 that were still active during 2017. All 2017 enterprise births will be followed for 5 years to assess their survival rate and the resulting effect on employment in a reference year.

Detailed data tables are available on CSO’s data dissemination service at: Demography&Planguage=0

For further information on the NACE Rev. 2 classification of economic activity, see this link:


1The private business economy covers the NACE Rev 2 sectors B - N (excluding 64.20 Activities of holding companies). For comparison with previous Business Demography releases only sectors B – N (excluding 64.20 Activities of holding companies) figures are included in the release text.

The full list of Rev 2 sectors covered is:

B – Mining and Quarrying

C – Manufacturing

D – Electricity, Gas, Steam and Air Conditioning Supply

E – Water Supply; Sewerage, Waste management and Remediation Activities

F – Construction

G – Wholesale and Retail Trade; Repair of Motor Vehicles and Motorcycles

H – Transportation and Storage

I – Accommodation and Food Service Activities

J – Information and Communication

K – Financial and Insurance Activities (excludes NACE code 64.20 Activities of holding companies)

L – Real Estate Activities

M – Professional, Scientific and Technical Activities

N – Administrative and Support Service Activities

An enterprise is considered to be active in a certain period if it generates turnover, employs staff or makes investments in that period.

The number of active enterprises in year t cannot be calculated from previous active enterprise figures and births and deaths figures. e.g. the number of active enterprises in year t does not equal the number of active enterprises in year t-1, minus deaths in t-1 plus births in year t. Birth calculations involve profiling work where real births are checked and weights applied based on checks conducted (a similar process is conducted for death calculations). In addition, final enterprise deaths take two years to be finalised, therefore enterprises may not be in enterprise totals in one year but in the next year and may still not be considered an enterprise birth or death.

Geographical Breakdown the geographical breakdown for enterprises is an approximation. The county breakdown is based on the address at which an enterprise is registered for revenue purposes, rather than where the business actually operates from, because no comprehensive adminstrative source is currently available for business locations. In particular, where an enterprise has local units in several counties, but one head office where all employment is registered, all its employees will be counted against the county where the head office is located. Enterprises where the county location is categorised as Unknown generally have Revenue registered addresses outside of the Republic of Ireland. However, the employees registered with these addresses are working in the Republic of Ireland.

2Persons engaged include employees, proprietors and family members. Persons engaged are the sum of Employees plus Working Proprietors.

Employees are persons who are paid a fixed wage or salary. Employees are calculated using an annual employment return received from Revenue. This return contains all registered employers and the number of employees they have paid a wage or salary to for a reference year. The file can contain individuals paid a wage by an employer as well as self-employed individuals who pay themselves a working wage. An individual may be counted more than once for a reference year they work multiple jobs in that reference year. The annual employment return from Revenue contains persons at work or temporarily absent because of illness, holidays, strike etc. If an individual is paid a wage for any segment of a reference year they are included in the overall figures.

Working Proprietors (Proprietors and family members); included here are those proprietors, partners, etc and members of their families who work regularly in the firm and are not paid a definite wage or salary. Working Propreitors is not a full count of self-employed individuals as some self-employed receive a wage and are returned via annual employment returns and are included in the Employees calculation.  

Comparison of Business Demography and Labour Force Survey employment levels
The primary classification used for the Labour Force Survey (LFS) results is the International Labour Office (ILO) labour force classification. Labour Force Survey data on this basis have been published since 1988. The ILO classification distinguishes the following main subgroups of the population aged 15 or over

In Employment: Persons who worked in the week before the survey for one hour or more for payment or profit, including work on the family farm or business and all persons who had a job but were not at work because of illness, holidays etc. in the week.

Unemployed: Persons who, in the week before the survey, were without work and available for work within the next two weeks, and had taken specific steps, in the preceding four weeks, to find work. It should be noted that as per Eurostat’s operational implementation, the upper age limit for classifying a person as unemployed is 74 years.

Inactive Population (not in labour force): All other persons.

The labour force comprises persons employed plus unemployed. Persons in employment classify their employment status as being self-employed, employee, assisting relative/family worker or on a state sponsored employment scheme. Employees are defined as persons who work for a public or private employer and who receive compensation in the form of wages, salaries, fees, gratuities, payment by results or payment in kind. Self-employed persons who pay themselves a working wage are classified as self-employed in the LFS.

Key Differences between LFS and Business Demography figures include:
- Business Demography is based purely on administrative data received from Revenue on an annual basis.
- LFS is based on survey data which is collected every quarter.
- Business Demography does not cap employment at 1 or at any value for an individual. Business Demography employment is a count of persons engaged at an enterprise and sector level. All work conducted by an individual over an annual period is included in the relevant enterprise (and therefore sector) in which they worked, on the basis of weeks (not hours) worked. 
- LFS caps employment at 2 for an individual in relation to full time equivalence only, therefore it takes into consideration a person’s first and second job. Otherwise employment is capped at one for an individual. 
- Timing issues. As stated LFS is conducted on a quarterly basis while Business Demography is conducted over a yearly basis. LFS also takes into account the hours worked by an individual and uses these values in full time equivalent employment calculations. Business Demography operates on a weeks worked basis from files received from Revenue. If an individual is classed as working 52 weeks in a reference period for an enterprise, they are classed as 1 employee (no hours worked is taking into consideration), irrespective of how many hours they have actually worked in those weeks

3The composition of sectors used in the graph is as follows:

- Services: Sectors H,I,J,L,M,N
- Distribution: Sector G
- Industry: Sectors B,C,D,E
- Construction: Sector F
- Financial Service Activities: Sector K excluding 64.20, Activities of holding companies.

4Small and Medium Enterprises are defined as enterprises with less than 250 persons engaged. The persons engaged breakdown provided in the figures are;

Less than 10: Micro Enterprises
10 – 49: Small Enterprises
50 – 249: Medium Enterprises
250+: Large Enterprises.

5Enterprise Deaths: An enterprise death amounts to the dissolution of a combination of production factors with the restriction that no other enterprises are involved in the event. Deaths do not include exits from the population due to mergers, takeovers, break-ups or restructuring of a set of enterprises. It does not include exits from a sub-population resulting only from a change of activity.

An enterprise is included in the count of deaths only if it is not reactivated within two years.

The population of enterprise deaths in 2016 contains all enterprises that ceased at some point during the year 2016. The figures given in the release in relation to deaths are final figures for the period 2008 - 2015. The death figures for 2016 in this release are estimates of final deaths based on analysis of preliminary and final death figures from previous years. This will be revised to a final figure next year, when two years of death data is available. The death figures for 2016 in the Statbank tables are preliminary based on one years data, and are not adjusted as per the estimates given in this release.

6Enterprise Births: An enterprise birth amounts to the creation of a combination of production factors with the restriction that no other enterprises are involved in the event. Births do not include entries into the population due to mergers, break-ups, split-off or restructuring of a set of enterprises. It does not include entries into a sub-population resulting only from a change of activity.

A birth occurs when an enterprise starts from scratch and actually starts activity. An enterprise creation can be considered an enterprise birth if new production factors, in particular new jobs, is created. If a dormant unit is reactivated within two years, this event is not considered a birth.

The population of enterprise births in 2017 contains all enterprises that started at some stage during the year 2017.

7Population, births and survival data in this release relates to 2017, but the latest deaths data available is for 2016.

8Business Demography figures at an EU level are available at the following link. Latest data available is for 2016.