Immigrant entrepreneurs create about a quarter of new businesses in the United States, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper.

In a few states, immigrants account for:

– more than 40% of new businesses in California, New York and New Jersey.

– fewer than 5% in Idaho, North Dakota and some other places.

This is according to Wellesley’s Sari Pekkala Kerr and Harvard Business School’s William R. Kerr, who analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data on firm ownership and the jobs those businesses generate.

“Looking at the traits of founders, female ownership is slightly higher in immigrant-owned firms. Immigrant owners tend to be younger and are more likely to combine owners of several ages, perhaps indicative of a greater prevalence of family businesses. Education levels are broadly comparable between immigrants and natives,” they wrote.

Their research indicated that new immigrant-owned firms generated 3 million to 4 million jobs.

In addition, immigrant-owned businesses–from the neighborhood storefront to the new technology venture–have always played a key role in immigrant economic and social integration and the fabric of the U.S. economy as a whole.

In Massachusetts, where immigrants make up 15% of the population, they own 18% of all businesses and in 2012 founded 61% of new businesses.

Immigrant-owned or founded companies help root and revive urban neighborhoods, including some of the most disadvantaged, and dominate sectors across the state economy, from restaurants and food services (38%) to biotech (38%).

Latino and Asian-owned businesses alone employ over 50,000 Massachusetts residents, with sales receipts of over $7 billion.

“While these calculations are only approximate, they give a sense to the ongoing contribution to the U.S. economy of immigrant entrepreneurship.”

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