The private sector is the part of the economy not controlled by local, state or federal government. Examples of the private sector are privately owned small businesses, multinational corporations and nonprofits. The private sector provides most of the jobs in a free-market economy.
Privately owned small businesses form the bulk of the private sector. They include privately owned corporations, partnerships and sole proprietorships. Most of the jobs in the U.S. economy are created by small businesses. They range from small mom-and-pop operations to businesses with up to 500 employees. Small professional corporations, such as doctors and lawyers, are included in this classification.
Large, multinational corporations are the most prominent members of the private sector. They exert considerable economic and political influence, and their activities are closely regulated by government agencies. Their ranks include some of the most recognizable names in commerce: Apple, Exxon, Ford, General Motors, Home Depot and Johnson & Johnson.
Nonprofits make up the final division of the private sector. They engage in activities deemed publicly desirable, such as natural resource conservation, social services and education. They are given special tax treatment by the government. Prominent nonprofits include the United Way, the Sierra Club, the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity and numerous special-interest organizations.