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One-third of California small businesses owned by immigrants

June 14, 2012 | 11:43 am

A third of small-business owners in California are immigrants, making it the state with the highest concentration of immigrant small-business owners in the nation, according to a new report based on census data.

The report shows immigrants are an increasing segment of small-business owners nationwide. Many own restaurants, laundries and grocery stores, but immigrants in cities around the country are also branching out into different sectors of the economy.

Immigrants, who make up about 13% of the national population, are about 10% more likely to be small-business owners than are U.S.-born workers, according to the report issued Thursday by the Fiscal Policy Institute, a New York-based think tank.

The study is based on an analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners and the American Community Survey. The percentage of immigrant small-business owners has increased over the last 20 years, from about 12% two decades ago.

Among metropolitan areas, Los Angeles has the second highest concentration of immigrant small-business owners, at 44%; Miami has the highest at 45%. Immigrants make up about 34% of the population of the greater Los Angeles area.

Certain types of businesses have particularly large concentrations of immigrant business owners, according to the report. About 37% of restaurant owners, 49% of grocery store owners and 54% of those who own laundry and dry cleaners are immigrants. Immigrants are also likely to own doctor’s offices, real estate firms and truck transportation services.

"I don't think immigrants are super-entrepreneurs, but I do see that immigrants are playing an important and growing role across the American landscape,” said David Dyssegaard Kallick, author of the report.

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-- Paloma Esquivel

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