Business, Economics and Jobs

Immigrants own 18% of small businesses in the United States: FPI report

A credit card reader is used to charge a credit card from a customer at Lorenzo's Italian Market in Miami, Fla.


Joe Raedle

Immigrants own a greater percentage of small businesses in the US today than they did 20 years ago, according to analysis of census data by the Fiscal Policy Institute, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The FPI report shows that 18 percent of the 4.9 million small-business owners in the US were immigrants in 2010, up from 12 percent in 1990, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“It’s gone from a modest size of business owners to a pretty substantial size of business owners,” David Dyssegaard Kallick, a fellow at FPI, told Bloomberg Businessweek.

(Foreign-born workers are also a greater presence in US businesses, the report noted, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Immigrants were 16 percent of the workforce in 2010, up from 9 percent in 1990.)

Mediterranean and Middle Eastern immigrants have the highest rate of business ownership, FPI said, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. The report noted that at least 10 percent of immigrants from Greece, Israel, Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, and Italy own businesses.

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The report also observed that immigrants are setting up small businesses in more places than before, and not just in cities with large immigrant populations, the Wall Street Journal reported.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

In Schuyler, Neb., a meatpacking town of just 6,211 people, Mexican and Guatemalan immigrants have flocked to B Street, transforming a neighborhood where storefronts had stood vacant for years.

"Our downtown is mostly immigrant businesses now," Mayor David Reinecke told the Wall Street Journal. "If they weren't here, we'd be dying."

FPI calculates that immigrant-owned businesses with fewer than 100 employees generated $776 billion in revenue and employed 4.7 million workers in 2010, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

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