58,000 Enterprises in Western Region employing 250,000 people

  • 92.9% of all enterprises in Western Region are micro-enterprises (10 or fewer people)
  • Largest number of enterprises in Construction, Wholesale & Retail and Professional Services
  • No. of enterprises in Western Region fell 4.3% between 2008 and 2012 but grew 6.5% (2012-2017)

The Western Development Commission (WDC) has today published new analysis of enterprises in the Western Region.  Based on recent CSO Business Demography data, the WDC has released an infographic ‘Enterprise in the Western Region 2017’ with accompanying data for the seven counties within its area (Clare, Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo).

The newly released data shows that in 2017, there were 57,951 enterprises registered in the Western Region. This accounted for 17.1% of all enterprises registered across Ireland at the time.  In total, 255,261 people were working in these businesses, including both owners and employees.  In the Western Region, employees accounted for 84.6% of everyone working in enterprises. This was lower than the 90% state average meaning that owners accounted for a larger share of the enterprise workforce in the region.

The data for the Western Region highlighted that 92.9% of enterprises were micro-enterprises (employing fewer than 10 people). However, because of their small size micro-enterprises only accounted for 35.8% of everyone working in enterprises in the region.

The data shows that micro-enterprises play a more significant role in the Western Region than nationally, both in terms of their share of all enterprises (92.9% in the Western Region, 92.1% nationally) and their share of employment in enterprises (35.8% in the Western Region, 26.5% nationally).

While larger firms (with 10 or more people) only account for 7.1% of enterprises in the Western Region, they employ 64.2% of people working for the region’s businesses.

The number of enterprises registered in the Western Region fell by 4.3% between 2008 and 2012. This was weaker than the national performance where the number of enterprises grew marginally (0.1%) over this period.

With economic recovery, the number increased again, growing by 6.5% in the Western Region between 2012 and 2017 (11% nationally).  Much of this growth occurred in more recent years and particularly between 2016 and 2017.

Author of the report, WDC Policy Analyst Pauline White says:

‘Clearly micro-enterprises play a very significant role in the Western Region’s enterprise base.  There is a higher share of owner-managers working in enterprises in the region which is important to keep in mind when designing and planning business supports. While enterprises in the region were hit very hard during the recession, there has been recovery, accelerating in recent years. There were more enterprises registered in the Western Region in 2017 than a decade earlier.’  

In terms of the number of enterprises, Construction is the largest sector in the Western Region accounting for 20.4% of all enterprises registered in the region.  Wholesale & Retail (15%) and Professional, Scientific & Technical activities (9.4%) are next largest.  All three sectors include many sole traders and micro-enterprises e.g. construction trades, solicitors, architects, small shops and they are also the three largest sectors nationally.

Considering the number of people working in enterprises however shows a different pattern.  Wholesale & Retail is the largest enterprise sector in employment terms (17.8% of all people working in enterprises in the Western Region) followed by Industry (manufacturing) (17.2%) and Accommodation & Food Service (13.4%). These three sectors include many larger businesses e.g. factories, hotels, large retail stores, so account for a greater share of employment than of enterprises.

According to Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO of the WDC:

‘Enterprises form the backbone of the local and regional economy.  Supporting the establishment and growth of sustainable enterprises across the Western Region is one of the three strategic themes of our recently launched WDC Strategy 2019-2024.  This analysis of enterprise data helps to inform the WDC’s work in supporting enterprises through the WDC Investment Fund, creation of a network of Enterprise Hubs across the Atlantic Economic Corridor area and a number of other sectoral initiatives.’ 

Download ‘Enterprise in the Western Region 2017’ and key statistics for each county of the Western Region from https://www.wdc.ie/publications


For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact Allan Mulrooney, Head of Communications, WDC on allanmulrooney@wdc.ie or +353 87 334 3713

Notes to Editor:

  • The Western Development Commission (WDC) is a statutory body promoting social and economic development in the Western Region. It was established in 1998 to cover counties Clare, Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo. wdc.ie
  • The WDC’s Policy Analysis Team analyses regional and rural issues, suggests solutions to regional difficulties and provides a regional perspective on national policy objectives. This publication is part of a suite of WDC Insights publications which aim to provide accessible information for people in the Western Region, based on analysis of key socio-economic data and providing insights on important issues for the region and its counties. Other outputs of the WDC’s Policy Analysis Team include Policy Briefings, Reports, Submissions and the weekly WDC Insights Blog.
  • Data Source: All data sourced from CSO, Business Demography 2017 Tables BRA08 and TableBRA18. Analysis of data was undertaken by the Western Development Commission.
    • The geographical breakdown for enterprises is an approximation. The county breakdown is based on the address at which an enterprise is registered for Revenue purposes, rather than where the business actually operates from. In particular, where an enterprise has local units in several counties (e.g. a supermarket chain), but one head office where all employment is registered, all its employees are counted against the county where the head office is located.
    • Data on total enterprises, total persons engaged and enterprises/persons engaged by Sector are based on a figure for ‘total enterprises’ which includes all economic sectors (NACE Rev2) except Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing and Public Administration & Defence.
    • Data on enterprises and persons engaged by enterprise size (micro-enterprises etc.) and data on changes over time are based on a figure for ‘business economy’ enterprises which includes all economic sectors (NACE Rev2) except Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing, Public Administration & Defence, Education, Health & Social Work, Arts/ Entertainment/ Recreation and Other Services.