Immigrants and Small Business

New York Times
June 30, 2012

Immigrants are known as entrepreneurial people, for obvious reasons: those with the ambition and energy to uproot themselves and build new lives in a distant land are well equipped to build businesses and the economy, too. That is the common wisdom, anyway, which a new study from the Fiscal Policy Institute strikingly confirms. The study, based on census data, looks at owners of small businesses across the country and paints a broad and detailed picture of immigrant entrepreneurship.

The study found that there were 900,000 immigrants among small-business owners in the United States, about 18 percent of the total. This percentage is higher than the immigrant share of the overall population, which is 13 percent, and the immigrant share of the labor force, at 16 percent. Small businesses in which half or more of the owners were immigrants employed 4.7 million people in 2007, the latest year for which data were available, generating $776 billion in receipts. They accounted for 30 percent of the growth in small businesses — those with fewer than 100 employees — between 1990 and 2010.

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New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…