August 26, 2021

The Power of Employee Headcount Data – And Why It’s So Hard to Find

Many investors evaluate employee headcount to gain an edge in assessing the health of a company. The good news: historical, daily, and quarterly data is on IEX Cloud.

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David Hannibal

Many investors evaluate employee headcount to gain an edge in assessing the health of a company. The good news: historical, daily, and quarterly data is on IEX Cloud.

According to the OECD, employee count is one of the most significant indicators of a company's health and growth. Companies with steady year-over-year employee growth or incremental increase in employee count are good signs that business is on the upswing.

Employee count is also a good proxy of a company's bandwidth: how many products can it develop and maintain? How many customers can it acquire and serve? How many big contracts and partnerships can it land?

That’s why many investors consider employee headcount – both its current number as well as its trajectory over time – a key clue when evaluating the potential growth of a company.

IEX Cloud now brings this data to its users.

This data is available in two places on the platform:

  • Most Recently Reported Employee Headcount (Updated Monthly): This provides the most recently reported data on employee headcounts for U.S. companies. Available with free IEX Cloud plans on the Company endpoint, via the “Employees” field.
  • Coming Soon: Most Recently Reported Employee Headcount (Updated Daily) Plus 10 Years of History: Get historical employee headcount data for the past 10 years – ideal for tracking trajectories and trends with the most up-to-date information. Available soon as an add-on with paid IEX Cloud plans as a Premium Dataset.

Why Use Employee Headcount Data?

Given its numerous usage possibilities, employee count data is often highly prized in the financial community. For instance, it can be used for:

  • Alpha Generation: Investors use employee count growth to identify the fastest-growing companies and generate alpha.
  • Company Valuation: Investors estimate a company's value based on factors such as the company's number of employees, free cash flows, or dividends.
  • Data Comparability: Employee count is a well-known metric to normalize financial data and make it more comparable across time and entities, such as revenue-per-employee or assets-per-employee. It also plays a central role in quantitative modeling – scaling/normalizing data always improve linear models' numerical stability and interpretability.
  • Market Analysis: Investors use employee count data to filter or segment small and medium-sized from large companies and compare/analyze them accordingly.
  • Portfolio and Risk Management: Employee count data is commonly used to hedge or concentrate a portfolio's holdings in regards to human capital.

This data is also frequently used in sales for targeting purposes, in human resources for headcount demand/supply forecasting, and in many other applications.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Login into your IEX Cloud account, or, sign up for IEX Cloud here – you can start for free to access a small amount of basic data or get full access to the platform with a paid plan for as little as $9 per month.
  2. Log into the IEX Cloud Console to find your API token. If you're not familiar with how to make an API request, you can also use this guide here.
  3. Start accessing data. With both a free and paid plan, you can access employee headcount data updated on a quarterly basis from the Company endpoint, with data provided via the “Employees” field.

Why Is High-Quality Company Headcount Data So Hard to Find?

Despite its high number of use cases and against all expectations, employee count data is not widely available, and for good reasons. This data is challenging to acquire, normalize and keep track of. Seeking employee count data in hundred pages' corporate disclosures is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

It’s also difficult to normalize as this data is not subject to any reporting standard: companies can disclose this information in the format and layout they want. And of course, this data is work-intensive to keep track of as this headcount is dynamic and evolves rapidly over time.

Some data providers conveniently capture and disclose employee count data from LinkedIn corporate pages for the above reasons. Although the data is relatively easy to scrape, the resulting employee count data is inaccurate and inconsistent: for instance, Apple officially reported having approximately 147,000 full-time equivalent employees as of September 26th, 2020, when the LinkedIn page of the company indicated that over 250,000 people were working for the company on that same day.

Send us a note at with any questions, requests, or comments.

IEX Cloud Services LLC makes no promises or guarantees herein regarding results from particular products and services, and neither the information, nor any opinion expressed here, constitutes a solicitation or offer to buy or sell any securities or provide any investment advice or service.