White immigrants are most likely to be self-employed. AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Immigrants of all races are more likely to be self-employed compared to their U.S.-born counterparts.

Minorities are more entrepreneurial than people give them credit for. Immigrants, in particular, are “a significant force in self-employment and in creating jobs,” according to a new Pew Research Center study of Census data.   

Foreign-born workers are slightly more likely than U.S.-born ones to be self-employed in independent for-profit ventures. In 2014, immigrants made up a substantial chunk (19 percent) of the 14.6 million self-employed workers in the country. (For context: foreign-born workers make up around 17 percent of the U.S. workforce and are generally more likely to be employed than U.S.-born ones, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

Pew Research Center

The gap in self-employment between U.S. and non-native workers isn’t all that large overall. But a breakdown of self-employment numbers by race (in the chart at left) reveals that foreign-born immigrants in all racial groups overtake their native counterparts. White immigrants are the most likely to be self-employed at 17 percent, followed by Asian and Hispanic immigrants at 11 percent. Foreign-born Hispanic workers were almost twice as likely as native-born ones to work at their own business. On the other hand, only 5 percent of U.S.-born black workers were self-employed.

When it came to job creation, U.S.-born business owners were ahead—but only by a little. Twenty-four percent of native-born, self-employed workers had employees, while 22 percent of immigrants did.

Among all the races, Asian Americans (foreign- and U.S.-born) were most likely to create jobs. Thirty-one percent of self-employed Asian workers hired at least one employee in 2014, compared to 25 percent of white self-employed workers. In terms of absolute numbers, however, white self-employed workers hired 24 million people in 2014—83 percent of total hires by self-employed business owners. Asian entrepreneurs were second, employing 7 percent of total hires.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Equity

    CityLab University: Inclusionary Zoning

    You’ve seen the term. But do you really know what it means? Here’s your essential primer.

  2. Equity

    The ‘War on Poverty’ Isn’t Over, and Kids Are Losing

    Federal spending on America’s children is heading down, and the drop in funding could be dramatic.

  3. Life

    Don’t Throw It Away—Take It to the Repair Cafe

    This series of workshops aims to keep broken items out of the landfill, and it might help you save a few bucks, too.

  4. Toxic algae collects at a dam on a river in Florida.
    Environment

    Can Florida’s Toxic Algae Be Stopped?

    The algae blooms pose risks to humans and marine animals—and to Florida’s tourism-dependent economy.

  5. Equity

    Mobile Home Owners Find a Lifeline Against Displacement

    When a landlord sells a mobile home park, it can upend an entire community. Through co-ops, residents are finding a way to stay where they live and control their rent costs.