New York Times (Taking Notes)
By Teresa Tritch
October 28, 2015
Politicians, especially those on the right, often talk about their devotion to “small business” when arguing against higher wages for workers and higher taxes for the rich.
They do so even though government research has shown that most small businesses do not have employees and very few small business owners make enough to be affected by high-end tax increases.
A new study by the Pew Research Center presents an even fuller picture. The study, which used survey data only recently made available by the Census Bureau, looked at self-employed individuals, defined as those who work for profits or fees in their own businesses, including sole proprietors, partners or incorporated business owners.
The study found that 14.6 million people, about 10 percent of the American workforce, say they are self-employed. Of them, 76 percent do not have any employees.
The remaining 24 percent, or 3.4 million people, employ 29.4 million workers, or 20 percent of the United States workforce. More than half of those nearly 30 million jobs are accounted for by a relatively small group of relatively large employers averaging 42 employees each. In addition, most of those employers operate their businesses as corporations.
So Republicans who invoke small business to justify low wages for workers and low taxes on the rich are not really talking to or about the majority of self-employed people who run one-person shops or those who hire others to help them in Main Street stores or other generally service-sector enterprises that come to mind when most people think about small businesses. That majority would probably stand to benefit if consumers had more money to spend from, say, a higher minimum wage and would be largely untouched by higher taxes on the rich.
The Pew Research Center does not take policy positions and so has not commented on what the needs and problems of genuinely small businesses may be or how best to address them. But if politicians were interested in learning, the Pew study could point them in the direction they need to go. It found, for example, that within each racial and ethnic group studied (white, Hispanic, black, Asian), immigrants are more likely to be self-employed than American-born workers. And self-employed immigrants are almost as likely to have employees as American-born business owners.
It stands to reason that respect for small businesses would include respect for immigrants; that help for small businesses would include help for immigrants’ special challenges; and that encouraging small businesses would mean encouraging immigration.
If only policy were based on research and rhetoric on reality.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com