Immigrants and Their Children Founded More Than Two-Fifths of All Fortune 500 Companies

The modern U.S. economy owes much of its success to the contributions of immigrants and their children. Among these contributions, it would be difficult to overstate the value of entrepreneurship. For instance, a new report from the Center for American Entrepreneurship (CAE) analyzes the role of immigrants and their children in 2017’s list of Fortune 500 companies.

Companies founded by immigrants include AT&T; Verizon; Procter & Gamble; PepsiCo; Pfizer; Goldman Sachs; and Facebook. Those founded by the children of immigrants include Apple; Ford Motor; Home Depot; Boeing; IBM; McDonald’s; and Staples. In total, 43 percent of all Fortune 500 companies were founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant.

These companies—which span numerous industries, from high-tech to retail to healthcare—wouldn’t exist if not for immigrants and their children.

CAE’s findings highlight just how critical immigrants are to the success of these powerhouse companies. Fortune 500 firms created by immigrants or the children of immigrants “are headquartered in 33 of the 50 states, employ 12.8 million people worldwide, and accounted for $5.3 trillion in global revenue in 2016,” according to the report.

Immigrants and their children are most prevalent among the biggest of the Fortune 500 companies, comprising 52 percent of the top 25 firms and 57 percent of the top 35. More precisely, 18.4 percent of today’s Fortune 500 companies were founded by at least one immigrant, and an additional 24.8 percent were founded by the child of an immigrant.

Yet immigrant entrepreneurs are not only found at the upper reaches of the business hierarchy. According to an analysis of Census data by the American Immigration Council, immigrants also accounted for 20.3 percent of all self-employed U.S. residents in 2015 and generated $72.3 billion in business income. Immigrants also accounted for 21.9 percent of all business owners in 50 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas in 2015.

The authors of the CAE report conclude that its findings “demonstrate the remarkable and persistent importance of immigrants to the creation and growth of America’s largest, most successful, and most valuable companies.”

It’s important to keep in mind that entrepreneurship is just one way in which immigrants and children of immigrants add value to the U.S. economy. They are also workers, consumers, and taxpayers who contribute to economic growth and job creation in myriad ways.

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