I am writing an academic paper in economics. I wonder what words I should use in following situation.

If for example we have many firms in the market. We can say the share of employment of, say manufacturing firms, as "the employment share of manufacturing firms". And the same goes for all other specific shares like "output share", "profit share".

But what should I say when I simply want to count the number of manufacturing firms and the share of this number? If there is no other specific shares in the context, I think I may simply say "the share of manufacturing firms" and everyone would understand it's by count? But when there is a lot of other shares also in the context, what should I use? I am thinking of using "the number share of manufacturing firms", but I search it in google search and find it seems not used at all.

An example of the sentence I want to write is like "While the number share of manufacturing firms declines in 1980s, its employment share increases significantly, which indicates a large rise in the average workers employed by a typical manufacturing firm in that period."

  • Can you give an example of a complete sentence where you want to use this word? Have you considered the words proportion, fraction, or percentage?
    – The Photon
    Commented Sep 18, 2021 at 5:24
  • @ThePhoton Thanks for commenting. I have added a complete sentence as an example. Commented Sep 18, 2021 at 5:30
  • @ThePhoton I feel like "proportion, fraction, or percentage" seems to be the words that I am looking for here. Do you think all of them can be used in the above sentence with the correct meaning? Commented Sep 18, 2021 at 5:38
  • Share would be interpreted as percentage by readers in this field. Number share—share of what? You seem to mean “absolute number” here. Is your base total number of firms (and if so where do you get this number?
    – Xanne
    Commented Sep 18, 2021 at 7:46
  • See this article for use of terms in this field stlouisfed.org/on-the-economy/2017/april/…
    – Xanne
    Commented Sep 18, 2021 at 8:24

1 Answer 1


I would recommend percentage, proportion, or fraction, depending on the exact usage required.

Your example can be reworded as

While the manufacturing sector's percentage of firms among public listings declined in the 1980's, its employment share increased significantly, which indicates a large rise in the average workers employed by a typical manufacturing firm in that period.

Side note: The conclusion you drew is not valid from the information presented. If the overall employment was shrinking and the manufacturing sector declined by some firms closing, while other sectors declined by laying off employees without many firms closing, then the total number of manufacturing employees could have dropped while the share of manufacturing employees rose. And in any case values for absolute numbers of employees by sector are likely readily available so there should be no need to try to infer this result indirectly.

  • Mfg share of total employment has been declining for some time. See link in my comment.
    – Xanne
    Commented Sep 18, 2021 at 19:00

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