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Overview - Mittelstand

Small and medium-sized enterprises are the engine of the German economy. This is illustrated by statistical data on the macro-economic significance of SMEs and by SME key indicators for Germany and North Rhine-Westphalia (cf. the table below). The following data are based on SME definition by the European Commission.

Please note that we currently provide only a selection of the most important statistics on our English website.

For further statistics, please refer to our German section.

Key indicators based on SME definition by the European Commission

Number of enterprises   
Enterprises according to
business register 20202
3 374 5833 351 27499.3%
Enterprises liable to VAT 202033 025 1453 012 04099.6%
Enterprise turnover   
Turnover of enterprises
according to business
register 20202 (in €)
6 879.85 bn2 319.44 bn33.7%
Turnover of enterprises
liable to VAT 20203 (in €)
6 503.46 bn2.392.62 bn36.8%
Employees/Apprentices in
enterprises and companies
Employees in enterprises
according to business register 20202
34.93 m19.02 m54.4%
Employees subject to social
insurance contributions in local
establishments (incl.
apprentices) (31.12.2020)4
31.69 m21.43 m67.6%
Apprentices in local
establishments (31.12.2020)4,5
1.54 m1.09 m70.6%
Self-employed total 202063.57 m  
Self-employed in liberal
professions (01.01.2021)7
1.46 m  
Self-employment rate
Self-employed except
agriculture 20209
3.40 m  
Self-employment rate
except agriculture 20208, 9
Economic Performance   
Net value added of enterprises
Research and Development   
R&D-expenses of the companies
202011 (in €)
93.93 bn7.68 bn 8.2%
   © IfM Bonn


Sources: Federal Statistical Office; Federal Employment Agency; Institute for Liberal Professions Nuremberg; Science statistics of the Stifterverband; Calculations by IfM Bonn, 07/2022.


Key indicators are being updated on a regular basis. The update schedule depends on the availability of basic data from official/semi-official statistics published by statistical agencies and research institutes respectively. 

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Researcher Simone Braun

+49 228 72997 24
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