Economy
7:00 am
Mon June 18, 2012

Foreign-Born Small Business Owners Contribute To Pittsburgh Economy

Small businesses are important to the national economy, and a new study released by the Fiscal Policy Institute [PDF] shows an increasing number of foreign-born business owners in Pittsburgh and across the country.

In the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, U.S.-born small business owners represent 2.5% of the U.S.-born labor force, while foreign-born small business owners make up 3% of the foreign-born labor force.

Mark Price, a labor economist at the liberal-leaning Keystone Research Center said this is normal for Pittsburgh. "It is true that the foreign-born are more likely to start and form a small business as a whole, and that's also true for the city of Pittsburgh. The foreign-born are about 20% more likely than U.S.-born to own a small business in the city," Price said.

In Pennsylvania, immigrants represent 5.4% of the population, 6.4% of the labor force, and 9.1% of all small business owners. In Pittsburgh, they account for 3% of the population and labor force and 4% of all small business owners.

Price said businesses started by foreign-born citizens vary in the types of work and services offered. "Those industries are some you would expect. Some are high-tech. They are also in the service industry in hotels and restaurants, so it is a very diverse group of business owners," Price said.

Price added that even though they represent a small share of the population in Pittsburgh, they are making important contributions. "I think it goes a long ways towards reminding people that future prosperity really depends both on creating an environment that's good for all families and all workers and that includes an environment that doesn't stigmatize or try to scapegoat immigrants for broader economic problems," Price said.

According to the institute's study, in the United States 18% of small business owners are foreign-born, but only represent 13% of the population and 16% of the labor force.