R&D Activities at Small Companies Yet to Recover from 2008–09 Great Recession

Change in domestic R&D activities, by selected company size: 2009–18

(Millions of U.S. dollars and thousands of employees)
Company size (number of domestic employees) Change in domestic R&D performance (millions of U.S. dollars) Change in domestic R&D employment (thousands)
10–19 -808 -26
20–49 -959 -35
50–99 -961 -19
100–249 5,800 35
250–499 8,441 30
500–999 7,538 27
Source(s):

National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) and U.S. Census Bureau, Business Research and Development Survey. For latest year, NCSES, Business Research and Development: 2018. NSF 21-312. Available at https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsf21312/.

Showing how business research and development responds to economic fluctuations—such as the recent recession induced by the coronavirus pandemic—is an important use of data from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. To that end, this InfoChart uses the most recently available data (2018) to examine the recovery of U.S. R&D activities from the 2008–09 Great Recession and how the impacts differ based on company size.

Although the nation began its recovery from the Great Recession in 2009, R&D activities—that is, performance and employment—have still not recovered beyond their 2009 levels in smaller companies. From the end of the Great Recession, large companies (more than 250 employees) have increased R&D performance and R&D employment by 68% and 41%, respectively. For medium companies (50–249 employees), only those with more than 100 employees have recovered from 2009 post-recession levels of R&D activities. Since the end of the Great Recession, R&D activities have become more concentrated in large companies, which account for 89% of 2018 R&D performance and 83% of 2018 R&D employment among companies with 10 or more employees.

Note: This publication defines “recovery” as demonstrating a statistically significant increase over the 2009 level using a 1-sided test at the 10% significance level.

Suggested Citation: Anderson G; National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES). 2021. R&D Activities at Small Companies Yet to Recover from 2008–09 Great Recession. NSF 21-330. Alexandria, VA: National Science Foundation. Available at https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsf21330.

Authors

Gary Anderson