Immigrant Entrepreneurs are Bright Spot in Lackluster Economy
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The Associated Press has declared this economic recovery to be the worst since World War II. GDP growth has been lackluster, only 46% of jobs lost have been recovered, and wages haven’t kept up with inflation. However, according to a new report by Professor Robert Fairlie for the Partnership for a New American Economy, immigrant entrepreneurs have been a bright spot, and will play a key role in the economy’s recovery.
The report finds that “28 percent of all new small businesses started in the United States in 2011 were founded by immigrants.” In 2000, immigrants made up 11.1% of the population and owned 12% of all businesses. Ten years later, immigrants grew to 12.9% of the population but accounted for 20% of all businesses.
Income from immigrant-owned businesses has grown 60% from 2000 to 2010, reaching $109.1 billion. Fairlie writes, “[I]mmigrant business owners have helped prevent a far worse economic picture.”
From 2007-2011 almost one-quarter of all new businesses were launched by immigrant entrepreneurs, and in some of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy it's higher:
- Construction: 31.8%
- Transportation and utilities: 29.4%
- Educational and health services: 28.7%
- Health care and social assistance: 28.7%
Exports have been a job creation driver over the last few years, and immigrant entrepreneurs can help continue this trend. Fairlie’s report notes that “immigrant-owned businesses are more than 60 percent more likely to export than are non-immigrant owned businesses." These businesses have an advantage of “established networks in their home countries, an understanding of local markets, and shared languages and culture.”
Moving past the statistics, the report contains a number of immigrant entrepreneur success stories. One story is Sergio Bermudez who turned a small, Latino-focused grocery store into a chain of six stores in New Mexico with more than 220 employees serving 40,000 customers per week. Another is the story of Shukri Ali and Mahamed Mahamud and their Lewiston, ME café. Along with other Somali immigrant business owners, they have revitalized a downtown “once plagued by high vacancy rates and empty store fronts.”
[For more stories about immigrant-owned businesses, check out the “Immigrant Entrepreneurs" report from the U.S. Chamber and the Immigration Policy Center.]
Gallup declared, “Americans remain largely dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States, and that probably results from their ongoing concerns about the economy and unemployment.” During this sluggish recovery, immigrant entrepreneurs have stood out for their success, and we should look to them to help power greater economic growth and new jobs.