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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 20192
3 559 1973 535 70599.3%
Enterprises liable to VAT 201933 288 3063 274 91099.6%
Enterprise turnover   
Turnover of enterprises
according to business
register 20192 (in €)
7 153.38 bn2 353.35 bn32.9%
Turnover of enterprises
liable to VAT 20193 (in €)
6 770.83 bn2.426.96 bn35.8%
Employees/Apprentices in
enterprises and companies
Employees in enterprises
according to business register 20192
35.21 m19.24 m54.7%
Employees subject to social
insurance contributions in local
establishments (incl.
apprentices) (31.12.2019)4
31.80 m21.50 m67.6%
Apprentices in local
establishments (31.12.2019)4,5
1.56 m1.11 m71.3%
Self-employed total 201963.96 m  
Self-employed in liberal
professions (01.01.2020)7
1.45 m  
Self-employment rate
20196, 8
Self-employed except
agriculture 20199
3.78 m  
Self-employment rate
except agriculture 20198, 9
Economic Performance   
Net value added of enterprises
Research and Development   
R&D-expenses of the companies
201911 (in €)
98.52 bn7.74 bn 7.9%
   © IfM Bonn



Sources: Federal Statistical Office; Federal Employment Agency; Institute for Liberal Professions Nuremberg; Science statistics of the Stifterverband; Calculations by IfM Bonn, 09/2021.


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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