One Cost of Cutting Back on Less-Skilled Immigration: Potential Business Creation

New Analysis: Over Two Million Foreign-Born Entrepreneurs with Less Than a Bachelor’s Degree Generate $43 Billion in Business Income

NEW YORK, New York – Following the introduction of a Senate bill that would cut legal immigration in half and prioritize immigrants with higher levels of education, a new analysis by New American Economy shows that foreign-born entrepreneurs with less than a bachelor’s degree play a significant role in the U.S. economy. As reported by CNN Money and based on the most recent available data (2015), there are more than two million such immigrant entrepreneurs in the United States.

“Immigrant entrepreneurship isn’t just a Silicon Valley story, it’s a Main Street story,” said John Feinblatt, President of New American Economy. “Immigrants without college degrees run successful businesses in communities nationwide, and attracting more of that talent only creates jobs and boosts the economy.”

NAE’s new analysis shows:

  • Less-skilled immigrants contribute to the economy as business owners. In 2015, more than 2.1 million foreign-born entrepreneurs without a bachelor’s degree lived in the United States.
  • Their businesses achieve meaningful success. In 2015, they brought in $43 billion in business income – accounting for almost one out of every nine dollars of business income brought in by the self-employed population that year.
  • Less-skilled immigrants outpace their foreign-born and U.S.-born peers in entrepreneurship. In 2015, 12.0% of less-skilled immigrants were self-employed entrepreneurs – a percentage higher than immigrants with at least a bachelor’s degree (10.6%) and the U.S.-born population (8.9%) both.

Past NAE research also noted that immigrants are more than twice as likely as the U.S.-born population to found their own businesses. As recently as 2010, roughly one in 10 Americans employed by a private company worked at an immigrant-owned firm.

Read NAE’s full analysis here.


About NAE

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…