Private equity employment totalled 10.5 million people in 2018, adding jobs five times faster than European average

A total of 10.5 million people were employed at 22,659 private equity backed businesses in Europe at the end of 2018 – according to the first Private Equity at Work report from Invest Europe, an association representing Europe’s private equity, venture capital and infrastructure sectors, as well as their investors.

The figure represents 4.5 per cent of the continent’s active workforce and equates to more than the entire population of Greece.

The research presents a transparent account of European private equity’s record on employment, demonstrating the industry’s commitment to workers and job creation just as businesses across the continent seek to bounce back from the economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis.

The report also highlights the impact of private equity investment and active management on job creation. Companies supported by Invest Europe members created 173,124 net jobs in 2018, more than the number of people passing through Amsterdam Central Station each day. Employment levels at those companies increased by 5.5 per cent in 2018, five times the 1.1 per cent growth achieved by European businesses on average. All stages of private equity created jobs at a higher rate than the European average, ranging from 5 per cent for buyouts to 16 per cent growth for venture capital.

“Invest Europe’s Private Equity at Work demonstrates just how deeply ingrained private equity is in the economic and social fabric of Europe. The industry is a major supporter of employment across the whole continent. Not only do its companies create jobs, but they do it at a much faster rate than the average European business,” says Eric de Montgolfier, CEO of Invest Europe. “Private equity is an engine for growth. And growth is an engine for job creation. 

"In these challenging times, private equity backed companies are not immune from the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on the economy. However, the industry’s focus on building better businesses, supporting investors and fuelling innovation, in turn driving growth and job creation, means that private equity has a critical role to play in Europe’s economic recovery.”

The report analyses the industry’s contribution to employment and job creation across every European region and all major industry sectors. Private equity backed businesses incorporated in Ile-de-France employed 1.2 million people, while nearly 3.4 million people worked for companies in the business products and services sector across Europe. Biotech and healthcare were among the best performing industries for job creation, increasing employment by 9.0 per cent in 2018.

The research draws particular attention to private equity’s key role in helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) employing fewer than 250 staff, the backbone of the European economy, achieve their growth aspirations. A total of 14,500 private equity backed SMEs employed almost 900,000 people across Europe at the end of 2018. These companies increased employment at a rate of 10 per cent in 2018, with over one in ten graduating to a higher business size category.

Invest Europe has started collecting data for future employment and job creation reports, expanding the scope of the study to capture information on more private equity backed companies in Europe. Over time, this data will expand to create a comprehensive picture of private equity’s contribution to jobs and the economy that those jobs support.