New data released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau highlights the rapidly growing economic power of Latino-owned businesses in the United States. According to the Bureau’s 2007 Survey of Business Owners, there were 2.3 million Latino-owned businesses in the country as of 2007, which generated $345.2 billion in sales and employed 1.9 million people. Moreover, the number of Latino-owned businesses grew by 43.7 percent between 2002 and 2007, which was more than twice the national average. In other words, the Latino community tends to be highly entrepreneurial, and the businesses which Latinos create sustain large numbers of jobs.

While Latino-owned businesses accounted for 8.3 percent of all nonfarm businesses in the United States as a whole in 2007, they comprised a much higher share of businesses in many states and cities. For instance:

  • Latino-owned businesses were 23.6 percent of all businesses in New Mexico, 22.4 percent in Florida, 20.7 percent in Texas, 16.5 percent in California, and 10.7 percent in Arizona as of 2007.
  • Latino-owned businesses were 59.8 percent of all businesses in El Paso (Texas), 39.4 percent in San Antonio (Texas), 23.3 percent in Houston (Texas), 23.1 percent in Albuquerque (New Mexico), and 21.0 percent in Los Angeles (California) as of 2007.

Given that the majority of Latinos are immigrants or the children of immigrants, their entrepreneurial contributions to the U.S. economy should be an integral part of the debate over the economics of immigration. Yet the role that Latino-owned businesses play in growing the economy and creating jobs is often overlooked. As the new census data illustrates, however, the entrepreneurship of the Latino community is a powerful economic force which can not be ignored. Even though the recent recession has undoubtedly hit the Latino business community hard, the fact remains that, without Latino businesses, the United States would have a smaller economy and fewer jobs. This is a basic economic truth which many nativist groups seem unable to grasp.

Photo by heacphotos.