COLUMBUS, Ohio — Middle market companies in the United States grew at a near-record rate in the last year, according to the National Center from the Middle Market (NCMM). At the same time, companies indicate that their level of hiring may decline, and their confidence in the economy has tailed slightly off. These insights come from the 1Q Middle Market Indicator (MMI) released today. Healthcare, business services and construction companies lead the way in both revenue and hiring increases.


While growth continued at extraordinary levels, it was distributed among a smaller number of middle market companies; the number reporting gains fell from 79 percent in Q4 2018 to 74 percent this quarter. Similarly, the percentage adding to headcount declined from 55 percent to 51 percent. Overall employment growth was 5.6 percent, however, well above the historical average employment growth rate, though below 2018’s stronger levels.


Future expectations continue to soften across the middle market. Projected growth rates for both revenue and employment over the next 12 months are both down from three months ago. The proportion of firms indicating that revenue and the size of the workforce will increase in the year ahead, are down as well over the same period.


Perhaps more telling, economic confidence levels slipped for the third straight quarter, and for the first time in several years, the proportion of leaders saying they would save an extra dollar as opposed to invest it rose significantly.


"Middle market companies continue to grow, but their willingness to invest is starting to slow," said NCMM Executive Director Thomas A. Stewart. "They’re telling us that they have become more cautious about both investing and hiring.”


After months of reporting talent and retention as a top concern, a full 72 percent of companies say the size of the workforce is just about right for current market conditions.


"As companies look to further save an extra dollar, they’re also starting to reel in their hiring," said NCMM Managing Director Doug Farren. "Executives seem to be trimming their investments to align with forecasts of slower economic growth."


For additional survey data and infographics, including in-depth looks at regional variations, hiring/talent acquisition efforts and other business concerns among middle market companies, visit


About the National Center for the Middle Market (NCMM)

The National Center for the Middle Market is a collaboration between The Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business, Chubb Limited, Cisco Systems, Inc., and Grant Thornton LLP. It exists for a single purpose: to ensure that the vitality and robustness of Middle Market companies are fully realized as fundamental to our nation's economic outlook and prosperity. The Center is the leading source of knowledge, leadership, and innovative research on the middle market economy, providing critical data analysis, insights, and perspectives for companies, policymakers, and other key stakeholders, to help accelerate growth, increase competitiveness and create jobs in this sector.


Housed at The Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business, the National Center for the Middle Market is the first center of its kind in the nation. The Center enthusiastically serves middle market firms, students, academic researchers, policy makers, the media and other key stakeholders with interests in the health and well-being of the middle market. The Center is fully committed to funding and distributing the most credible open-sourced research, dynamically creating new knowledge, providing programs that drive value for middle market companies, and offering a well-informed outlook on the health and future of the middle market via the Middle Market Indicator.