Accountability

Published — July 21, 2011 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Who’s a job creator? Depends on your political stance

Introduction

As Washington lurches toward an Aug. 2 debt ceiling deadline, House Republicans remain steadfast in their plan to prevent tax increases—particularly for the group they call “job creators.”

“Our disagreement is over the idea of raising taxes on the very people that we are asking to create jobs in our country,” House Speaker John A. Boehner says. “The American people will not accept—and the House will not pass—a bill that raises taxes on job creators.”

The House Republicans’ Plan for Job Creation, released in May, points to small businesses as a key source of jobs in the American economy. But analysts say as the U.S. begins to recover from the recession, it is big businesses that are creating more jobs.

“The large businesses are the ones that regained their profitability much sooner than small businesses when the country came out of the recession,” said Sophia Koropeckyj, managing director at Moody’s Analytics .

Because of their quicker recovery, large businesses have been able to create more jobs in recent months than small businesses, Koropeckyj said. Some of the fastest-growing sectors—health care, education and manufacturing—are dominated by companies that have more than 500 employees and are therefore too big to meet the Small Business Association’s definition of a small business. The hotel, restaurant and retail sectors, which have also seen strong job creation of late, are also dominated by chains.

But when it comes to political rhetoric, such terms can be ambiguous, said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania who specializes in campaign communication.

“The focus is on small businesses, and of course that’s always an undefined term,” Jamieson said.

For politicians, charged terms like “job creators” and the related “job-killing tax increases” can be particularly effective in garnering popular support, regardless of their accuracy.

“The public is going to be seeing this rhetoric through the filter of its own ideology,” Jamieson said.

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