Stand up for facts and support PolitiFact.
Now is your chance to go on the record as supporting trusted, factual information by joining PolitiFact’s Truth Squad. Contributions or gifts to PolitiFact, which is part of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Poynter Institute, are tax deductible.
I would like to contribute
Small businesses are such an integral part of the U.S. economy that, at least according to one congressman, nearly all American workers have jobs at companies with fewer than 100 employees.
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-8th Dist.) pointed to that statistic during a Feb. 23 debate against U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman at Passaic County Community College in Paterson. The two Democrats will face off on June 5 for their party’s nomination to represent the newly redrawn 9th Congressional District.
The Pascrell campaign on March 3 posted video clips of the debate on the campaign’s YouTube channel, including one in which the congressman discussed his commitment to helping small businesses.
"And what I am saying to you is that I have an obligation and a responsibility as a congressman to find ways to help small business," Pascrell told the crowd. "Ninety percent of the people who work in this country work for companies under 100 people, maybe even less than that."
PolitiFact New Jersey discovered that Pascrell’s claim is way off, because such companies employed about 35 percent of U.S. workers in 2009, according to business statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau.
This is the second time in less than two months that we’ve debunked one of Pascrell’s statistics on small businesses. In February, we gave him a False for claiming 62 percent of small businesses closed during the past five years because of health care bills.
Let's explain his latest misstatement about workers at companies with fewer than 100 employees.
In 2009, businesses with fewer than 100 employees employed 40,128,249 workers, according to the census bureau. That’s about 35 percent of the 114,509,626 workers included in the census data.
Those statistics exclude certain industries and most government employees, but are considered the "standard reference source for small business statistics," according to the census bureau.
Pascrell campaign spokesman Sean Darcy acknowledged that the congressman "misspoke" and said he meant to say "businesses with fewer than 500 employees represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms."
That statistic is accurate. According to the census bureau, of the 5,767,306 employer firms in 2009, 5,749,797 had fewer than 500 employees.
Those businesses with fewer than 500 employees employed about half of the nation’s workforce included in the census data.
Before we get to our ruling, it’s worth noting that the Pascrell campaign later made the video private on its YouTube channel. So, if you go looking for it now, it’s not there.
Darcy told us the video was originally marked public by mistake. He provided this explanation in an e-mail:
"We have a number of videos on that youtube channel marked private. We use it as a vehicle for the campaign to all view content without having to be in the same location. It is a common practice.
"We have a huge amount of public content on-line on our pascrell for congress facebook page and our pascrell web pages and have been using these sites as a vehicle to get the campaign's message out. Not sure how you came across the one video that was on there in error but, essentially, you found a staff mistake."
In a Feb. 23 debate with Congressman Steve Rothman, Pascrell claimed: "Ninety percent of the people who work in this country work for companies under 100 people, maybe even less than that."
But according to the U.S. Census Bureau, businesses with fewer than 100 employees employed about 35 percent of American workers in 2009. A spokesman for Pascrell acknowledged that the congressman misspoke.
We rate the statement False.
To comment on this ruling, go to NJ.com.
YouTube video of debate between Congressmen Bill Pascrell and Steve Rothman, March 3, 2012
PolitiFact New Jersey, Bill Pascrell claims health care bills forced 62 percent of small businesses to shut down during the past five years, Feb. 24, 2012
U.S. Small Business Administration, Small Business Profile: United States, January 2012
Email interview with Patrick Morris, spokesman for the U.S. Small Business Administration: Office of Advocacy, March 16, 2012
U.S. Census Bureau, Statistics of U.S. Businesses: U.S. and States, Totals for 2009, accessed March 16, 2012
Email interview with U.S. Census Bureau media office, March 16 and 19, 2012
Email interview with Sean Darcy, spokesman for Congressman Bill Pascrell’s campaign, March 19-20, 2012
NorthJersey.com, Pascrell, Rothman square off at forum in Paterson, Feb. 23, 2012
PatersonPress.com, Patersonians Grill Congressional Candidates At Pastors Workshop Forum, Feb. 29, 2012
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.