Immigrant-Owned Small Business

The Fiscal Policy Institute’s Immigration Research Initiative released a report on Immigrant-owned small businesses last year. Among the topics the report focused on was the growth of immigrant-owned small businesses, what factors influence the likelihood that an immigrant will become a business owner, and some of statistics about small immigrant-owned small businesses.

Of the 4.9 million of small businesses in the United States, 4.9 million or 18 percent are immigrant-owned. From 1990 to 2010 immigrant-owned small business accounted for 30 percent of the overall growth of small businesses.

The overall rate of small business ownership for immigrants is very similar to that of US-born, 3.5 and 3.3 percent, respectively. Business-ownership differs greatly among immigrants. For example, Greeks only make a small part of immigrants but 16 percent of Greek immigrants in the labor force are business owners. The length of time immigrants have lived in the US also affects their likelihood of becoming business owners- those who have been in the states for longer than 10 years are more likely to own a business. For Indians, for example, only 2 percent of the recently arrived owned a business compared to 9 percent of longer-established immigrants.

Education levels between foreign-born and US-born small business owners is not very different; 58 percent of small business owners do not have a degree while 56 percent of US-born do not have one either. As one would image, levels of education do affect the likelihood of owning a business.

In metropolitan areas, where the larger populations of immigrants can be found, immigrants are 10 percent more likely than US-born workers to become small business owners. With 45 percent of its immigrants as business owners, the Miami metro area has the largest share of immigrant business owners. Among the states (plus DC), California has the highest concentration of immigrant business owners (33 percent).

Despite the assistance that immigrant-owned businesses provide to the economy, immigrant small business owners earn 16 percent less than US-born small business owners- with the exception in education, health and social services, where foreign-born doctors push up the earnings.

Source: Immigrant Small Business Owners by the Fiscal Policy Institute’s Immigration Research Initiative

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