Information and communication service statistics - NACE Rev. 2
Data extracted in March 2020.
Planned article update: May 2021.
The information and communication services sector numbered more than 1 million enterprises and employed almost 5.8 million people, in the EU in 2017.
The information and communication services sector accounted for 4.6 % of enterprises in the EU in2017.
This article presents an overview of statistics for the European Union’s (EU) information and communication services sector, as covered by NACE Rev. 2 Section J. It belongs to a set of statistical articles on 'Business economy by sector'
The EU-27’s information and communication services sector (Section J) numbered more than 1 million enterprises in 2017, employing almost 5.8 million persons and generating EUR 480.7 billion of value added. This sector’s contribution to the non-financial business economy (Sections B to J and L to N and Division 95) was 4.6 % of the enterprise population, 4.6 % of the persons employed, and 7.7 % of value added.
The apparent labour productivity of the EU-27’s information and communication services sector in 2017 was EUR 83 000 per person employed, which was almost 70.0 % higher than the non-financial business economy average of EUR 49 500 per person employed. Alongside this relatively high apparent labour productivity — third highest among the NACE sections that form the non-financial business economy — average personnel costs within the information and communication services sector were EUR 54 400 per employee, which was also well above the average for the non-financial business economy (EUR 34 700 per employee) and the second highest among the NACE sections.
The wage-adjusted labour productivity ratio shows that value added per person employed was equivalent to 153.0 % of average personnel costs per employee across the EU-27 in 2017. This ratio was substantially higher than the non-financial business economy average (142.7 %). Equally the EU-27’s information and communication services sector recorded a gross operating rate of 17.6 % in 2017, almost double the 10.1 % average for the whole of the non-financial business economy and lower only than the rates recorded for real estate activities (41.0 %) and for water supply; sewerage, waste management (18.0 %).
One of the six subsectors (at the division level) dominated the information and communication services sector in the EU-27, namely computer programming, consultancy and related activities (Division 62). This subsector generated almost half (43.7 %) of sectoral value added and contributed to 54.5 % of the employment in 2017. The second largest subsector was telecommunications (Division 61), which accounted for 14.0 % of the information and communication services employment and contributed 27.3 % to sectoral value added.
Other subsectors within the information and communication services sector are: - publishing activities (Division 58), - motion picture, video and television programme production, sound recording and music publishing activities (Division 59), - programming and broadcasting activities (Division 60) - and information service activities (Division 63)
The high apparent labour productivity for the whole of the EU-27’s information and communication services sector in 2017 was pulled upwards by the values for the telecommunications subsector (EUR 161 000 per person employed) and the programming and broadcasting activities subsector where apparent labour productivity was EUR 102 000 per person employed. Among the other subsectors within the information and communication services sector, apparent labour productivity was in line with or slightly below the sectoral average of EUR 83 000 per person employed, but still well above the non-financial business economy average of EUR 49 500 per person employed.
Equally, all of the subsectors recorded average personnel costs per employee above the non-financial business economy average, ranging from EUR 38 800 for motion picture, video and television programme production, sound recording and music publishing activities (Division 59) to EUR 57 800 for programming and broadcasting activities (Division 60).
Due to the very high apparent labour productivity, the telecommunications subsector recorded the highest levels of wage-adjusted labour productivity (280.0 %), which was the fifth highest wage-adjusted labour productivity ratio at the NACE division level within the non-financial business economy in 2017. A high level of wage-adjusted labour productivity (177.0 %), was also recorded for programming and broadcasting subsector, placing it on tenth highest wage-adjusted labour productivity ratio within the non-financial business economy in 2017 at the NACE division level. On the other hand, the lowest ratio was recorded for computer programming and consultancy (118.0 %).
The telecommunications subsector recorded the highest gross operating rate (27.0 %) among the NACE divisions that compose the EU-27’s information and communication services sector (for which information was available); it was followed in the ranking by motion picture, video and television programme production, sound recording and music publishing activities (19.0 %).
A double-digit share of non-financial business economy value added was recorded in Luxembourg (11.6 %), Malta (12.0 %) and Cyprus (12.6 %), with the highest share recorded in Ireland (14.1 %); the lowest share was recorded in Austria 5.3 % (see Figure 2). Among the EFTA countries, the relative weight of the information and communication services sector was similar to the EU average in Iceland (8.0 %), but lower than the EU average in Switzerland and Norway, as it contributed 6.9 % and 6.1 % respectively to the value added that was generated within the non-financial business economies of these two countries in 2017.
Germany made the largest contribution among the EU Member States to sectoral value added and employment within the information and communication services sector in 2017, accounting for a 25.4 % share of EU-27 value added and an 22.4 % share of the information and communication services employment. Almost 1.3 million persons were employed within the information and communication services sector in Germany in 2017. Two countries with the highest recorded levels of value added within the information and communication services sector in 2017 were Germany and France (EUR 121.9 billion and EUR 92.4 billion respectively). Collectively, the five largest Member States accounted for 68.4 % of the EU-27’s value added in the information and communication services sector.
Germany made the highest contribution to EU-27 value added in four out of six subsectors. In the largest subsector, namely computer programming and consultancy, Germany generated the largest share of EU-27 value added (13.0 % in 2017); while Malta was the most specialised with 7.7 % of non-financial business economy value added in 2017. In relative terms, the most specialised EU Member State within the information and communication services sector was Ireland (with 14.1 % of non-financial business economy value added in 2017). For the six subsectors that form information and communication services, the data that are available show a geographical spread of the specialisation depending on the subsector.
Five countries; Ireland, Luxembourg, Belgium, Cyprus and France stood out as having an apparent labour productivity higher than EUR 100 000 per person employed for the information and communication services sector in 2017. Ireland reported the highest wage-adjusted labour productivity ratio, at 403.6 % followed by Malta at 290.4 % and Cyprus at 284.6 %. None of the Member States recorded a wage-adjusted labour productivity ratio that was below parity (100 %).
The highest gross operating rate for the information and communication services sector in 2017 was recorded for Malta (28.2 %); rates above 20.0 % were recorded in total in 11 EU Member States.
Size class analysis
Large enterprises (employing 250 or more persons) dominated the information and communication services sector in the EU-27. In 2017, they reported a 58.1 % share of sectoral value added (equal to EUR 279.3 billion), while contributing 40.5 % of the sectoral employment (almost 2.4 million persons). Across all of the NACE sections that form the non-financial business economy, the information and communication services sector recorded the fourth highest contribution from large enterprises to its sectoral value added — behind the electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply; mining and quarrying sectors; and manufacturing (Sections D, B and C).
The apparent labour productivity of large enterprises within the EU-27’s information and communication services sector was, at EUR 119 000 almost double the non-financial business economy average for large enterprises (EUR 66 120 per person employed). There appeared to be increasing returns to scale within the information and communication services sector.
There were ten EU Member States reporting that the contribution of large enterprises to value added within the information and communication services sector was less than 50.0 % in 2017; they were Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland, Sweden and Slovenia (where the lowest share was registered at 35.1 %); the contribution of large enterprises to the value added of the Icelandic information and communication services sector was below the lowest share recorded in the EU Member States, standing at 30.6 %, while in Norway and Switzerland it was also below 50 %, as it stood at 42.2 % and 46.7 % respectively. At the other end of the scale, large enterprises in Ireland, Spain, France, Italy and Poland accounted above 60.0 % of the value added generated within the information and communication services sector.
In value added terms, large enterprises accounted for the overwhelming majority of activity within the EU- 27’s telecommunications subsector and the programming and broadcasting activities subsector, some 87.0 % and 77.3 % of the total respectively.
In employment terms, the dominance of large enterprises was somewhat less apparent, but remained prevalent, especially for the telecommunications subsector and the programming and broadcasting activities subsector, where large enterprises accounted for 76.2 % and 70.7 % of the total persons employed across the EU-27. Large enterprises also provided the highest proportion of employment within the computer programming and consultancy subsector and publishing activities.
The French capital city region of the Île de France recorded the highest number of persons employed, across NUTS level 2 regions within the EU-27, for the information and communication services sector in 2017. With 662 300 persons, the Île de France accounted for 11.4 % of the total number of persons employed in the EU-27 in this sector. The second highest number of persons employed was recorded for the Spanish capital city region of the Comunidad de Madrid where 210 000 persons worked in the information and communication services sector. The German regions Köln and Oberbayern and the Italian region Lombardia completed the ranking of the top five regions in relation to employment levels within the information and communication services sector.
The ranking of the largest regions (in employment terms) suggests that the EU-27’s information and communication services sector was particularly developed in and around capital city regions and in regions that contained other large cities. Aside from Berlin, Madrid, Paris and Rome, there was a high level of employment within the information and communication services sector in the capital city regions of Sweden (Stockholm), Hungary (Budapest), Romania (Bucuresti - Ilfov), the Netherlands (Noord-Holland) and Poland Warszawski stoleczny — each of which featured among the top 20 regions. The remaining regions within the top 20 included the German regions of Köln, Dusseldorf, Darmstadt, Stuttgart, Hamburg and Oberbayern; Lombardia in Italy; Cataluña in Spain; Yugozapaden in Bulgaria; Eastern and Midland region in Ireland and Hovedstaden in Denmark. These top 20 regions together accounted for 46.5 % of the EU-27’s information and communication services employment.
The relative significance of the information and communication services sector can be analysed by comparing the employment of this sector with the non-financial business economy employment. Among the 171 NUTS level 2 regions for which 2017 data are available, the median share of the information and communication services sector in the non-financial business economy employment was 2.7 %. Employment within the information and communication services sector was concentrated in relatively few regions. In Stockholm (Sweden), the information and communication services sector accounted for more than 13.0 % of the non-financial business economy employment. There were six other regions, at NUTS level 2, which reported the information and communication services sector accounting for above 10 % of the non-financial business economy employment: Budapest (Hungary), Hovedstaden (the capital city region of Denmark), Helsinki-Uusimaa (Finland), Bratislavský kraj (Slovakia), Île de France (France), and Yugozapaden (Bulgaria). There were 16 NUTS level 2 regions in the EU-27 which reported their information and communication services sector accounting for between 6.0 % and 10.0 % of their non-financial business economy employment.
At the other end of the range, there were only two NUTS level 2 regions in the EU-27 where the information and communication services sector accounted for less than 1.0 % of the non-financial business economy employment.
Information and communication services concern the production and distribution of information and cultural products, the provision of the means to transmit or distribute these products as well as data or communications, information technology activities, and the processing of data and other information service activities.
The sector is composed of six separate NACE divisions and includes:
- publishing activities (Division 58);
- motion picture and sound recording activities (Division 59);
- programming and broadcasting activities (Division 60);
- wired, wireless and satellite telecommunications activities (Division 61);
- computer programming and consultancy activities (Division 62);
- information service activities such as data processing, hosting, web portals, news agencies, information search (Division 63).
Note that this article does not cover printing or the mass reproduction of recorded media, both of which are considered as part of the manufacturing sector (Section C). The activities of call centres are included within the administrative and support services sector (Section M).
Publishing includes the acquisition of copyrights to content (information products) and making this content available to the general public by engaging in or arranging for the reproduction and distribution of this content in various forms; all types of media are included. Different types of content are considered, with the publishing activity as presented in this article including content such as books, newspapers, magazines and software, while the production of audio and visual content is included within motion picture and sound recording activities.
Programming and broadcasting activities cover the production and distribution of TV programming and involves different stages: production of individual items (such as films or television series); the creation of a complete television channel programme (including live news programming) and broadcasting; distribution of complete television programmes by third parties without any alteration of the content, for example through broadcasting, satellite or cable systems.
The analysis presented in this article is based on the main dataset for structural business statistics (SBS), size class data and regional data, all of which are published annually.
The main series provides information for each EU Member State as well as a number of non-member countries at a detailed level according to the activity classification NACE. Data are available for a wide range of variables.
In structural business statistics, size classes are generally defined by the number of persons employed. A limited set of the standard structural business statistics variables (for example, the number of enterprises, turnover, persons employed and value added) are analysed by size class, mostly down to the three-digit (group) level of NACE. The main size classes used in this article for presenting the results are:
- small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs): with 1 to 249 persons employed, further divided into;
- micro enterprises: with less than 10 persons employed;
- small enterprises: with 10 to 49 persons employed;
- medium-sized enterprises: with 50 to 249 persons employed;
- large enterprises: with 250 or more persons employed.
Regional SBS data are available at NUTS levels 1 and 2 for the EU Member States, Iceland and Norway, mostly down to the two-digit (division) level of NACE. The main variable analyzed in this article is the number of persons employed. The type of statistical unit used for regional SBS data is normally the local unit, which is an enterprise or part of an enterprise situated in a geographically identified place. Local units are classified into sectors (by NACE) normally according to their own main activity, but in some EU Member States the activity code is assigned on the basis of the principal activity of the enterprise to which the local unit belongs. The main SBS data series are presented at national level only, and for this national data the statistical unit is the enterprise. It is possible for the principal activity of a local unit to differ from that of the enterprise to which it belongs. Hence, national SBS data from the main series are not necessarily directly comparable with national aggregates compiled from regional SBS.
Technological and regulatory advancements have made it possible for broadcasting to be opened up to a wider range of content and services to users than those traditionally distributed by government-licensed organisations that used to be solely responsible for the broadcasting of a small number of radio and television channels according to a fixed schedule. Using a range of modern technologies, broadcasting can nowadays be undertaken with far lower entry barriers, providing a wider range of distribution media, content and services to users.
Information and communication technologies (ICT) affect people’s everyday lives in many ways and EU policies in this area range from regulating entire sectors to trying to protect an individual’s privacy. The increased availability of broadband services and of wireless devices is transforming economic and societal behaviour. Widespread access to the internet via rapid broadband connections is seen as essential for the development of advanced services on the internet.
In May 2010, the European Commission adopted a Communication concerning a Digital Agenda for Europe, a strategy for a flourishing digital economy by 2020, replacing the i2010 initiative; this is one of seven flagship initiatives under the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. It outlines policies and actions aimed at maximizing the benefit of the digital era to all sections of society and the economy. The agenda focuses on seven priority areas for action: creating a digital single market, greater interoperability, boosting internet trust and security, providing much faster internet access, encouraging investment in research and development, enhancing digital literacy skills and inclusion, and applying ICT to address challenges facing society like climate change and the ageing population.
The Digital Agenda for Europe defines roaming as a key performance target for attaining the Digital Single Market, with the stated aim of making the difference between roaming and national tariffs approach zero by 2016. After having conducted a thorough review, the European Commission found that the roaming market is not yet competitive enough and despite the fact that the cost of using mobile phones or other devices when abroad in the EU has continuously fallen, most operators still propose retail prices that remain around the maximum legal caps. For this reason the Roaming Regulation has been extended until 30 June 2022, and a series of new measures aimed at increasing competition and encouraging operators to offer attractive consumer deals have also been introduced; these revised rules started as of 1 July 2012.
More detailed analysis of information and communication service activities:
- SBS – services (sbs_serv)
- Annual detailed enterprise statistics - services (sbs_na_serv)
- Annual detailed enterprise statistics for services (NACE Rev. 2, H-N and S95) (sbs_na_1a_se_r2)
- SMEs - Annual enterprise statistics by size class - services (sbs_sc_sc)
- Services by employment size class (NACE Rev. 2, H-N, S95) (sbs_sc_1b_se_r2)
- Annual detailed enterprise statistics - services (sbs_na_serv)
- SBS - regional data - all activities (sbs_r)
- SBS data by NUTS 2 regions and NACE Rev. 2 (from 2008 onwards) (sbs_r_nuts06_r2)