New Census Data on Minority-Owned Businesses

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For four decades, if someone wanted to know the state of minority-owned businesses they had to rely on the 5-year Census Bureau Report. Starting in the early 1970’s the Bureau produced the Survey of Minority-Owned Business Enterprises (SMOBE). During the last two releases, 2007 and 2012, the survey name was changed to the Survey of Business Owners (SBO). A big limitation is that SBO is generated every five years. Furthermore, it typically takes four years to collect, compile and release the data. This means the information is stale by the time it is available. On September 1, 2016, the Census Bureau released the first of a new annual business survey entitled the Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs (ASE). This new survey significantly improves the timeliness of information by race, gender, and ethnicity of ownership.

The 2016 release is based on data collected from a sample of approximately 290,000 employer businesses that operated during 2014. ASE is designed to supplement the five-year SBO, not replace it. While the results of the two survey samples (ASE and SBO) are somewhat similar, the two are not strictly comparable. A unique addition is that ASE includes information on the number of years a firm has been in business. ASE was created by a partnership between the Census Bureau, The Kauffman Foundation, and the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA).

The survey examines only firms with one or more employees. In 2014, there were 5.2 million employer-based firms that were nonpublic and whose ownership could be classified by race, ethnicity, and gender. Among those firms, 949,318 were owned by minorities. They comprised 18.4% of all nonpublic firms.

Minority-owned employer firms generated $1.1 trillion in revenue, which is approximately 9.8% of the revenue of all nonpublic firms. Minority-owned firms also employed 7.8 million workers or 13.7% of the employed workforce in nonpublic firms. Finally, 20.4% or 1.1 million of the employer firms were owned by women.

The racial ownership characteristics of the firms were as follows: 86.0% was owned by Whites (4,441,550); 2.1% was owned by Blacks (108,476); .5% was owned by American Indians and Alaska Natives (26,757); 9.8% was owned by Asians (506,595); .1% was owned by Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (4701); and 5.8% was owned by Latinos (298,563).

Last modified: June 26, 2017

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