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Asian-owned businesses surge, Census shows

April 28, 2011 |  1:42 pm

Businesses owned by Asian Americans in California and across the nation are some of the fastest-growing segments of the economy, according to Census data released Thursday. The number of U.S. companies owned by people of Asian descent grew 40% from 2002 to 2007, more than twice the national rate, the Census Bureau said.

The companies employed 2.8 million people in 2007, chalking up receipts of $455 billion, a 56.2%  increase from 2002. An Asian-owned business is defined as a firm in which people of Asian descent own 51% or more of the business.

California had the most Asian-owned businesses in the nation in 2007: 509,097, more than New York (196,852) and Texas (114,336) combined. Los Angeles County had more Asian-owned businesses than any other county, with 183,092. 

About 45% of the Asian-owned businesses nationwide were in the repair and maintenance sector, followed by personal and laundry services, professional, scientific and technical services, and retail.

Just 397,484 of the 1.5 million businesses had paid employees, the Census Bureau said. That's still a 24% increase from 2002.

California data show that Asian Americans typically have among the lowest unemployment rates of any ethnic group, but that when Asian Americans lose their jobs they remain unemployed for longer. Experts say this is because many Asian Americans work for Asian-owned firms, and when those firms lay off employees the workers have a hard time finding other work because of language and cultural barriers.

Asian Chinese-owned businesses made up the largest percentage of the companies counted, at 27%, followed by Asian Indian-owned businesses, at 20%.

Asian Americans make up about 13% of California's population.

-- Alana Semuels

Photo: Areas such as Chinatown account for some of the growth of Asian-owned businesses seen in the latest Census results. Credit: Ca-los via Flickr