Labour market indicators for the EU have improved significantly since mid-2013. There has been a net increase of 4.4 million in the employment headcount of the EU28 between the first quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2015. The EU unemployment rate has fallen below 10%, and growth in full-time jobs has resumed. Recent restructuring data from the European Restructuring Monitor (ERM) illustrates a balance between job loss and job creation announcements. Nonetheless, large disparities remain between Member States. Significant divergences have also emerged between the EU and the main developed countries (the US and Japan), where the post-crisis recovery in labour markets started earlier and has been more vigorous. At Member State level and overall, much catching up remains to be done.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), meaning companies with fewer than 250 employees, are likely to have contributed to improved employment levels and increasingly gain attention as a source of job creation in Europe. However, due to the large scale of the SME population, there is considerable heterogeneity among them, and not all are equally dynamic job creators.
This Eurofound research aims to identify in detail which SME types are more or less dynamic job creators and to determine their main drivers and barriers for job creation. Furthermore, the processes of job creation in SMEs and some of their outcomes are illustrated. Finally, the report discusses the orientation of the public debate on job creation in SMEs in the EU28 as well as some public support instruments. On the basis of this analysis, the report highlights areas where better support of SMEs in their employment growth efforts could be targeted.