Immigrant Entrepreneurship Drives Business Creation, Creates Opportunities

[Immigrants] are more than twice as likely to start businesses as their native-born counterparts. They are responsible for over a quarter of all new business formation–and new businesses have been the only source of net job creation in this country for the past 30 years. –Time Magazine

Since moving people out of poverty through employment depends upon access to quality jobs, CJC pays close attention to policymaker perspectives on the dynamics of job creation. We have been troubled by the limited information that has accompanied pronouncements in the media about immigrants and jobs, so we decided to dig a little deeper. Here’s what we found.

Immigrants create jobs and contribute positively to our economy.

On the campaign trail and in the Oval Office, President Trump has predicated his proposals for immigration reform upon the premise that immigrants spelled doom for the US economy. During a campaign event in Phoenix in 2015, he said of Mexican immigrants, “They’re taking our jobs. They’re taking our manufacturing jobs. They’re taking our money. They’re killing us.” While this fear is not unique to President Trump, several recent reports suggest that the opposite is true. Rather than stealing jobs from native-born Americans, immigrants have created more than their share of new jobs and businesses in the United States.

Business creation is a significant driver of economic growth, and immigrants’ entrepreneurial drive has incontrovertibly outstripped that of the United States’ native-born population. As reported by the Partnership for a New American Economy, “Over the last 15 years, immigrants have increased the rate by which they start businesses by more than 50 percent, while the native-born have seen their business generation rate decline by 10 percent.” Furthermore, immigrants are responsible for creating businesses of all sizes—from small local enterprises to Fortune 500 giants. Another report finds that “more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children.”

What about refugees?

In more recent news, President Trump’s highly contested travel ban has raised questions about the effects of welcoming refugees into the United States. While there are initial costs associated with re-settling refugees, the Washington Post highlights that, similarly to other immigrants, “in the longer run, refugees appear to play an outsized role in creating new jobs and even raising the wages of natives.”  In other words, supporting refugee resettlement is a short-term loss but a disproportionately large long-term gain. In fact, refugees open small businesses at even higher rates than other groups of immigrants—because “compared with other kinds of immigrants, refugees are less likely to have a job waiting for them in their host country. Other migrants may move countries to take a specific job offer with a company, or to join their family, who may offer them a job.”

In short, immigrants and refugees have bolstered the US economy—not hindered it—and their entrepreneurship continues to benefit the lives of other immigrants and native-born Americans alike. Closing our doors to immigrants and refugees would mean fewer new businesses, less economic growth, and ultimately fewer job opportunities for everyone who calls the United States “home.”

Interested in learning more?

Check out some of the reports and articles listed below for more detailed information.

Local:

Know Your Rights: ICIRR Graphic

Immigration Raid Has Chicago Businesses, Residents on Edge

On Devon Avenue in Chicago, news of immigration raids intensifies fears

Some Syrian Refugees Arrive in Chicago at Last

National:

Undocumented Immigrants’ State & Local Tax Contributions

40 Percent of Fortune 500 Companies Founded by Immigrants or Their Children

Open For Business: How Immigrants Are Driving Small Business Creation In The United States

The big myth about refugees: Refugees can be an investment, rather than a burden

Open the Door and Let ‘Em In

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