As the final presidential debate inevitably transgressed from foreign policy to the economy, Mitt Romney stated, "Two-thirds of our jobs come from small businesses."
Whether that's true or an overstatement depends on your definition of small business. When both Republicans and Democrats portray small businesses as creating anywhere from half to two-thirds of U.S. jobs, they may be citing estimates that include jobs at small locations of big businesses in addition to those created by actual small businesses, as Jared Bernstein, senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, has pointed out in a blog.
The claim that small businesses have created two out of three net new jobs can be misleading in that it refers to "small establishments," which includes not just small businesses with fewer than 50 workers, but locations of corporations such as, say, Gap or FedEx that employ fewer than 50 workers.
Bernstein points out that, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey which differentiates between small businesses and small establishments, small businesses actually created 26 percent of jobs.
"The next time someone's crowing about how the lion's share of the job growth is coming from small businesses, ask them if they're talking firms or establishments," Bernstein wrote. "If it's 'firms,' they're wrong. If it's establishments, they're not really talking small businesses."