Back to Top

 Skip navigation


Business Statistics Overview

Online ISSN: 2009-6895
CSO statistical publication, , 11am

Business in Ireland is an annual thematic e-publication released by the Central Statistics Office of Ireland (CSO). This publication outlines the key statistics for the Irish business economy in 2020.

Business Demography data (largely based on administrative data from the Revenue Commissioners) is used to analyse the number of enterprises and employment across the five sectors of Industry, Construction, Distribution, Services, and Financial & Insurance. This data is combined with the Structural Business Surveys, which are run annually by the CSO.

This publication provides answers to many key policy questions, such as:

♦ the impact of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) on the Irish business economy

♦ the contribution of foreign-owned enterprises in Ireland

♦ typical survival rates for new enterprises


The CSO would like to acknowledge and thank the many enterprises who completed their enterprise survey questionnaires. Without this extensive cooperation, this publication and a range of other important statistics would not be available. The CSO also wishes to acknowledge the contribution of the Revenue Commissioners, as the information provided by Revenue to the CSO is of critical importance in compiling these necessary outputs. All such administrative data provided is only used for statistical purposes.

Key Statistics on SMEs

  • Large enterprises (250+ persons engaged) accounted for almost one-third (31.6%) of all persons engaged in 2020 and just 0.2% of the total number of enterprises
  • SMEs (<250 persons engaged) accounted for 99.8% of the total number of enterprises in 2020 and 68.4% of all persons engaged
  • SMEs generated 41.9% of total turnover in the business economy and 34.5% of gross value added (GVA) was attributed to these enterprises
X-axis labelLarge (250+ persons engaged)SMEs (<250 persons engaged)
Active enterprises0.299.8
Persons engaged31.668.4

Number of Births and Deaths of Enterprises

  • The total number of enterprises that ceased trading during 2019 was 17,405, marginally more than in 2018
  • Enterprise deaths increased by 9.2% in the period 2015 to 2019
  • In 2020, there were an estimated 18,743 enterprise births
  • The number of new births increased by 3.6% in 2020 when compared with 2015

GVA per Person Engaged

  • Gross value added (GVA) per person engaged averaged €172,501 for all enterprises in the Irish non-financial business economy in 2020, while GVA in Irish-owned enterprises averaged €65,044
  • Small enterprises (10-49 persons engaged) reported GVA per person engaged in 2020 of €65,620, while medium enterprises (50-249 persons engaged) reported GVA per person engaged of €93,987
  • GVA per person engaged for large Irish-owned enterprises was €89,592, but increased to €357,529 when foreign-owned large enterprises were included
X-axis labelIrish-ownedAll enterprises
Micro (<10
persons engaged)
Small (10-49
persons engaged)
Medium (50-249
persons engaged)
Large (250+
persons engaged)
All size classes65044172501

Contribution of 50 Largest Enterprises

  • The 50 largest enterprises in the business economy by GVA accounted for 46.4% of total turnover, 59.7% of total GVA, and 73.2% of gross operating surplus (GOS). These Top 50 enterprises accounted for 5.5% of all persons engaged
  • The 50 largest enterprises in the business economy by employment accounted for 32.5% of total turnover, 30.0% of total GVA, and 34.2% of GOS
  • Industry stands out in terms of its reliance on a small number of high value-added enterprises. The 50 largest enterprises in Industry by GVA accounted for 80.4% of total turnover, 88.0% of total GVA, and 95.0% of GOS for the sector
X-axis labelTop 50 by GVATop 50 by employment
Gross operating surplus73.234.2

Irish Multinationals Abroad and Foreign-owned Multinationals in Ireland

  • ‌In 2020, Irish multinationals abroad had 1,200,342 persons engaged and generated turnover of €237.7 billion
  • Foreign-owned multinationals in Ireland had 457,990 persons engaged and generated €581.9 billion in turnover in 2020
Turnover (€ billions)Persons engaged
Foreign-owned multinationals in Ireland581.9457990
Irish multinationals abroad237.71200342
1.1 Main indicators for all business sectors, 2020

The individual surveys used to compile this report can be accessed here;