Middle-market firms are outpacing their smaller and larger counterparts when it comes to growth in number of firms, employment and revenue, according to the Middle Market Power Index from American Express and Dun & Bradstreet. 

The seventh report in the Middle Market Power Index series analyzes the characteristics and economic impact of middle-market enterprises — defined as businesses generating between $10 million and $1 billion in revenues — using Dun & Bradstreet’s proprietary database of commercially active U.S. firms over the past six years.

The latest report finds that middle-market firms substantially improved the nation’s economic health between 2011 and 2017. While middle-market companies account for less than 1 percent of all commercially active firms, they experienced the greatest growth in overall numbers (83.9 percent), employment (103.3 percent) and revenue (99.9 percent) since 2011.

Currently, middle-market firms employ more than 1 in 4 U.S. workers and are responsible for much of the job growth in recent years. Of the 51.8 million new jobs that were created since 2011, 26.8 million (or 51.7 percent) were created by middle-market firms. Middle-market firms also lead the way in revenue growth and account for more than one-quarter of all revenue produced by U.S. businesses, equating to roughly $9.3 trillion.

Iowa, which has 2,029 middle-market firms that account for 1 percent of the state’s companies, ranked 34th for growth in number of middle-market firms from 2011 to 2016, with a 75 percent increase in the number of middle-market companies in that period. 

“Although small in number, middle-market companies pack a large economic punch,” said Brendan Walsh, executive vice president, American Express Global Commercial Payments. 

Increases in the number of manufacturing and wholesale trade businesses are driving the most growth in the number of middle-market firms. In terms of geography, Ohio and Michigan are middle-market powerhouses  they are the only two states that experienced high growth in the number of middle-market firms, are in the top 10 in total number of middle-market firms, and have a greater than average share of middle-market firms.

“What our Middle Market Power Index shows us is that economic growth does not always come from the most expected places,” Walsh said. “It’s not just the small startups and large multinational companies that are hiring the most people and leading the way in revenue growth, it is also midsized manufacturers and wholesalers in the heartland, which are becoming leaner and more globally competitive. Growth in these sectors, among other middle-market industries, is what is really moving the needle for the American economy.”