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Working Paper Number CARRA-WP-2017-03
John Haltiwanger, Ron S. Jarmin, Robert Kulick, and Javier Miranda


Recent research shows that the job creating prowess of small firms in the U.S. is better attributed to startups and young firms that are small. But most startups and young firms either fail or don’t create jobs. A small proportion of young firms grow rapidly and they account for the long lasting contribution of startups to job growth. High growth firms are not well understood in terms of either theory or evidence. Although the evidence of their role in job creation is mounting, little is known about their life cycle dynamics, or their contribution to other key outcomes such as real output growth and productivity. In this paper, we enhance the Longitudinal Business Database with gross output (real revenue) measures. We find that the patterns for high output growth firms largely mimic those for high employment growth firms. High growth output firms are disproportionately young and make disproportionate contributions to output and productivity growth. The share of activity accounted for by high growth output and employment firms varies substantially across industries – in the post 2000 period the share of activity accounted for by high growth firms is significantly higher in the High Tech and Energy related industries. A firm in a small business intensive industry is less likely to be a high output growth firm but small business intensive industries don’t have significantly smaller shares of either employment or output activity accounted for by high growth firms.

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