By Pádraig Hoare
Just 0.2%, or 582 firms out of 250,000 businesses, employed almost a third of the private sector jobs in 2016, CSO figures show.
There were 250,033 enterprises in 2016, with SMEs accounting for 99.8% of firms.
SMEs accounted for 68% of people employed in businesses, while firms with more than 250 employees accounted for around 32% in 2016, the CSO said.
The services sector accounted for 45% of all employment in 2016, up from 40% in 2008.
The construction sector accounted for 8% of workers in 2016, down from over 12.5% in 2008.
Employment in the distribution sector dropped slightly in the eight years, while industry and financial service activities remained relatively stable, the CSO said.
Employee numbers at large firms have increased since 2008, where 29% were employed at firms with 250 or more.
Employment in SMEs declined around 3% in the same period.
Around 19,000 new firms were set up in 2016, with a similar figure considered as “enterprise deaths” by the CSO, following two years of inactivity.
The amount of overall new firms since 2008 increased by 2.5%.
Almost 31% of all enterprises that were active during 2016 began trading after 2011, at the height of the recession, the CSO figures showed.
More than 10,000 firms in the services sector ceased activity in 2015, accounting for more than half of closures.
In construction, almost 22,000 firms ceased activity, while distribution accounted for almost 16%.
In 2015, the Republic had the largest percentage of construction firms in the EU, at 20%, with the bloc’s average at 15%.