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New Zealand Business Demography Statistics: At February 2014
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  30 October 2014

Note: All figures in this release are provisional and subject to revision in the next release.

Number of enterprises and employees at highest level ever

At February 2014:

  • there were 487,880 enterprises in New Zealand, up 2.5 percent (11,730) from February 2013
  • this was the highest number of enterprises since the start of the current series (at February 2000), surpassing the previous peak of 480,860 at February 2009
  • these enterprises had 523,040 business locations (geographic units), up 2.3 percent (11,510) from February 2013
  • there were 1,995,300 employees, up 2.7 percent (52,200) from February 2013
  • this was the highest ever number of employees in this series; the previous highest was 1,977,200 at February 2008.

Note: The number of employees (employee count) in this series always refers to paid employees. It is treated as a business size measure, not as an official employment statistic.

 Graph, Number of enterprises and employee count, February 2002 to 2014.

More enterprises and employees in nearly all industries

All industries except agriculture, forestry, and fishing had more enterprises at February 2014 than at February 2013. The number of employees followed a similar trend, with all industries except mining showing increases from February 2013.

Industries with notable movements between February 2013 and February 2014 were:

  • agriculture, forestry, and fishing – enterprises down 0.8 percent (550) but employees up 5.4 percent (6,000), mostly in 'other agriculture and fishing support services'
  • construction – enterprises up 2.7 percent (1,360) and employees up 5.3 percent (6,600)
  • financial and insurance services – enterprises up 6.7 percent (2,000) and employees up 1.0 percent (500)
  • rental, hiring, and real estate services – enterprises up 5.1 percent (5,120) and employees up 5.0 percent (1,400)
  • professional, scientific, and technical services – enterprises up 2.9 percent (1,500) and employees up 4.5 percent (6,000)
  • administrative and support services – enterprises up 1.7 percent (280) and employees up 5.4 percent (5,000).

The manufacturing industry continued to be the largest employer at February 2014. However, the historical predominance of manufacturing is now being challenged by a few other industries. Below are some comparative employment data, for 10 years ago and now: 

  • manufacturing – 258,800 employees at February 2004, decreasing to 222,600 employees at February 2014
  • health care and social assistance – 173,300 at February 2004, increasing to 214,500 at February 2014
  • retail trade – 194,700 at February 2004, increasing to 199,700 at February 2014.

Construction industry leads high-growth enterprises

High-growth enterprises are defined in business demography statistics as enterprises where the employee count has increased at an average annual rate of 20 percent or more over three consecutive years. These enterprises should have at least 10 employees at the start of this three-year period.

See Definitions for a complete definition.
Some statistics on high-growth enterprises in New Zealand:

  • At February 2014, there were 1,030 high-growth enterprises.
  • From a peak of 1,070 at February 2008, the number had declined to 700 at February 2011.
  • At February 2014, the construction industry had the highest number of high-growth enterprises (160), followed by manufacturing (120), and professional, scientific, and technical services (110).

Business locations and employees increase in most regions

Of  New Zealand's 16 regions, 14 had more business locations at February 2014 than at February 2013. Gisborne and the West Coast  had slight decreases in business locations (0.1 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively). There were more employees at February 2014 in all regions except the West Coast.

Highlights for regional data at February 2014.

  • There were 170,620 business locations in Auckland region (up 3.5 percent from February 2013) and 668,800 employees (up 2.6 percent).
  • Auckland region accounted for 33 percent of all business locations and 34 percent of all employees.
  • Canterbury region had 67,270 business locations (up 3.1 percent from February 2013) and 275,200 employees (up 4.8 percent).
  • Wellington region had 53,210 business locations (up 1.4 percent from February 2013) and 240,100 employees (up 1.6 percent).
  • Tasman and Marlborough regions saw the number of employees going up 7.1 and 6.0 percent, respectively, during the year. The agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry contributed most to these increases.

 Graph, Number of business locations, by region, at February 2014.

Small businesses dominate enterprises but large businesses have half the employees

A very high proportion of enterprises in New Zealand (97 percent) either had no employees (were non-employers) or employed fewer than 20 people. However, nearly half of all employees worked for large enterprises (100 or more employees).

Highlights for all enterprises at February 2014.

  • 69 percent were non-employers.
  • 28 percent were employers with fewer than 20 employees (with 30 percent of all employees).
  • 2 percent had 20 to 99 employees (with 23 percent of all employees).
  • Less than 1 percent (2,170) employed 100 or more people (47 percent of all employees).
  • The 20–49 employee category had the highest percentage increase in both the number of enterprises (4.2 percent) and employees (4.3 percent) between February 2013 and February 2014.
     Graph, Proportions of enterprises and employees, by employee size group, at February 2014.  

 Two out of three employees work in companies

Analysis of enterprises by business type (the legal character of the enterprise) showed that, at February 2014:

  • 54 percent (262,480) of all enterprises were registered limited liability companies, and they had 68 percent of all employees
  • 17 percent (80,670) were individual proprietorships; another 13 percent (63,170) were partnerships
  • 12 percent (60,140) were trusts (excluding charitable trusts)
  • 2,750 central government organisations had 14 percent of all employees – the second-largest employer by business type (after limited liability companies).

Over the 10 years from February 2004 to February 2014:

  • the number of limited liability companies increased by 49.8 percent
  • individual proprietorships decreased by 18.0 percent
  • trusts increased by 67.7 percent.

Māori enterprises show strong connection to people, land, and sea

In business demography statistics a Māori enterprise is defined as a Māori authority or a trust, or a subsidiary of a Māori authority or a trust.

See Definitions for a complete definition.

At February 2014, there were 970 Māori enterprises and 8,500 employees working for these enterprises.

Three-quarters of all Māori enterprises were in three industries:

  • rental, hiring, and real estate services (41 percent) – mostly rental or leasing agricultural land and other commercial property
  • agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry (27 percent)
  • financial and insurance services (10 percent).

Employment in Māori enterprises, analysed by industry, showed that, at February 2014:

  • manufacturing had 1,800 employees, as did education and training
  • health care and social assistance was the third-highest employing industry with 1,400 employees
  • agriculture, forestry, and fishing had 1,300 employees.

Graph, Industry shares, Maori enterprises compared with all New Zealand enterprises, at February 2014.


Enterprise births outnumber deaths

During the February 2014 year:

  • 8,850 more enterprises started-up (births) than closed (deaths)
  • this was less than the difference for most years before 2009 (between 2005 and 2009, on average, there were 12,150 more enterprise births than deaths annually)
  • non-employing enterprises accounted for 87 percent of enterprise births and 92 percent of deaths, although only 69 percent of all enterprises were non-employing
  • on average, employing enterprise births had four employees.

Survival of enterprise births

Of the enterprise births in the February 2013 year, 86 percent had survived until February 2014 (first-year survivors). However, of enterprise births in the February 2004 year, only 29 percent survived until February 2014 (10-year survivors).

Graph, Enterprise births and deaths, February 2005 to 2014.


Note: Enterprise and business location (geographic unit) counts in this section are rounded to the nearest 10. Employee counts are rounded to the nearest 100.

For more detailed data, see the Excel tables in the 'Downloads' box.

For a map showing percentage changes in the number of business locations, by area unit, from 2010 to 2014, see the 'Downloads' box.

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