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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
735 924730 59199.3%
Enterprises liable to VAT 20193666 813663 55499.5%
Enterprise turnover   
Turnover of enterprises liable
to VAT 20193 (in €)
1 586.28 bn530.12 bn33.4%
Employees/Apprentices in
enterprises and companies
Employees enterprises according to
business register 20192
8.15 m4.25 m52.2%
Employees subject to social
insurance contributions in
local establishments (incl.
apprentices) (31.12.2019)4
6.70 m4.47 m66.8%
Apprentices in local
establishments (31.12.2019)4,5
0.36 m0.26 m71.7%
Self-employed total 20196765 000  
Self-employed in liberal
professions (01.01.2020)7
282 000  
Self-employment rate
20196, 8
Self-employed except
agriculture 20199
742 000  
Self-employment rate
except agriculture 20198, 9
    © IfM Bonn



Sources: Federal Statistical Office; Federal Employment Agency; Institute for Liberal Professions Nuremberg; 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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