Estimating the Contribution of Immigrant Business Owners to the U.S. Economy

Robert W. Fairlie
Date of Publication: 
November, 2008
Source Organization: 

This report provides a set of estimates of immigrant business owners in the U.S. economy. Using data from three nationally representative government datasets—the 2000 Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS), 1996-2007 Current Population Survey (CPS) and 1992 Characteristics of Business Owners (CBO)—this study examines the contribution of immigrant businesses to the U.S. economy. 

According to 2000 Census, immigrants constitute 12.2 percent of the total work force and 12.5 percent of the total population of business owners. The total business income generated by immigrant business owners is $67 billion, representing 11.6 percent of all business income in the U.S. 

The report finds, among other things, that immigrants are nearly 30 percent more likely to start a business than non-immigrants, and they represent 16.7 percent of all new business owners in the U.S. In California, immigrants make up 34.2 percent of new business owners each month. Nearly 30 percent of all new business owners per month in New York, Florida and Texas are immigrants.

The findings indicate that immigrants make large and important contributions to business ownership, formation and income in the United States, particularly in some states and economic sectors.

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Fairlie, R. W. (2008). Estimating the Contribution of Immigrant Business Owners to the U.S. Economy. Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy, Nov. 2008, No. 334. Retrieved from