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The Growing Economic Impact of NYC’s Asian-Owned Businesses

Report - November 2021

The Growing Economic Impact of NYC’s Asian-Owned Businesses

A data analysis finds that Asian-owned businesses now account for nearly a quarter of all businesses in the city—a far greater share than their share of the city’s population—and drove a disproportionate share of the overall growth in businesses citywide.

by Eli Dvorkin, Lulu Davis, Laird Gallagher, and Jonathan Bowles

Tags: economic opportunity economic growth human capital immigrants small business

Asian-owned businesses undoubtedly have a critical role to play in New York City's economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, a data analysis by the Center for an Urban Future finds that Asian-owned businesses now account for nearly a quarter of all businesses in the city—a far greater share than their share of the city’s population—and drove a disproportionate share of the overall growth in businesses citywide.

The analysis finds that prior to the pandemic there were more than 47,000 Asian-owned firms across the five boroughs, 23 percent of all businesses citywide. And during the previous five years, the number of Asian-owned firms in the city increased by 14.3 percent—nearly double the increase among white-owned businesses (8.6 percent) and all minority-owned businesses (7.4 percent).

The report uses data from U.S. Census 2017 Annual Business Survey, the most recent data available on small business ownership by race and ethnicity.

Key findings include:

  • Asian-owned businesses increased by 5,915 between 2012 and 2017, a 14.3 percent jump.
  • There are now 47,141 Asian-owned businesses, up from 41,226 in 2012.
  • The number of Asian-owned firms grew by more than 20 percent in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island over the past five years.
  • In Queens, more than one-third of businesses (35.1 percent) are now Asian-owned.
  • Of all boroughs, Staten Island had the fastest growth in Asian-owned firms, with the number of Asian-owned businesses increasing by 25.8 percent--from 963 firms in 2012 to 1,211 in 2017.
  • Three of New York’s boroughs are among the twelve counties in the country with the most Asian-owned firms. Manhattan is third (15,873 firms), Queens fourth (15,776 firms), and Brooklyn ranks eighth (11,323).
  • From 2012 to 2017, Queens and Brooklyn added the third- and fourth-most Asian-owned businesses of any U.S. county. The number of Asian-owned firms grew by 20.3 percent or 2,665 firms in Queens, and by 23 percent or 2,120 firms in Brooklyn.
  • In fact, all five boroughs recorded growth in the number of Asian-owned businesses. Manhattan added 734 Asian-owned firms (4.8 percent growth), the Bronx added 167 firms (5.8 percent growth), and Staten Island added 248 firms.
Table 5: Counties in the U.S. with the Most Asian-owned Businesses by Growth in Number of Asian-owned Businesses, 2012-2017
2012 Rank2017 RankCountyState# of Asian-owned firms in 2012# of Asian-owned firms in 2017% Growth in Asian-owned Firms# Growth in Asian-owned firms
#1#1Los AngelesCA50,06955,0369.9%4,967
#3#2OrangeCA15,11018,96125.5%3,851
#2#3New YorkNY15,13915,8734.8%734
#4#4QueensNY13,11115,77620.3%2,665
#6#5Santa ClaraCA11,51813,09513.7%1,577
#5#6HarrisTX11,85612,8088.0%952
#7#7CookIL10,83511,5406.5%705
#9#8KingsNY9,20311,32323.0%2,120
#8#9AlamedaCA9,54210,54410.5%1,002
#10#10HonoluluHI9,0868,705-4.2%-381
#11#11San DiegoCA7,5708,39110.8%821
#12#12KingWA7,4478,26511.0%818
#14#13DallasTX5,9387,44525.4%1,507
#13#14San FranciscoCA6,4447,24212.4%798
#17#15FairfaxVA5,0516,05319.8%1,002
#31#38BronxNY2,8643,0315.8%167
#95#86RichmondNY9631,21125.8%248

Source: Economic Census, 2012 Survey of Business Owners and 2017 Annual Business Survey, U.S. Census Bureau

Table 8: Share and Number of Employer Businesses in Queens by Race/Ethnicity, 2012 & 2017
Race / Ethnicity# of firms in 2012Share of total firms in 2012# of firms in 2017Share of total firms in 2017# Growth% Growth
Hispanic3,7829.3%3,4767.7%-306-8.1
Black or African American1,1362.8%1,6333.6%49743.8
Asian13,11132.3%15,77635.1%2,66520.3
Minority18,15444.7%20,42345.4%2,26912.5
White22,61055.6%23,89953.2%1,2895.7

Source: Economic Census, 2012 Survey of Business Owners and 2017 Annual Business Survey, U.S. Census Bureau

Table 9: Share and Number of Employer Businesses in Brooklyn by Race/Ethnicity, 2012 & 2017
Race / Ethnicity# of firms in 2012Share of total firms in 2012# of firms in 2017Share of total firms in 2017# Growth% Growth
Hispanic2,6895.8%2,8135.3%1244.6
Black or African American2,0974.5%2,4454.6%34816.6
Asian9,20320.0%11,32321.4%2,12023.0
Minority13,98130.3%16,02530.2%2,04414.6
White30,93767.1%36,54569.0%5,60818.1

Source: Economic Census, 2012 Survey of Business Owners and 2017 Annual Business Survey, U.S. Census Bureau

Table 10: Share and Number of Employer Businesses in the Bronx by Race/Ethnicity, 2012 & 2017
Race / Ethnicity# of firms in 2012Share of total firms in 2012# of firms in 2017Share of total firms in 2017# Growth% Growth
Hispanic2,93319.6%2,25914.4%-674-23.0
Black or African American8475.7%1,1247.2%27732.7
Asian2,86419.1%3,03119.4%1675.8
Minority6,50543.5%5,88937.7%-616-9.5
White8,63057.7%10,43566.7%1,80520.9

Source: Economic Census, 2012 Survey of Business Owners and 2017 Annual Business Survey, U.S. Census Bureau

Table 11: Share and Number of Employer Businesses in Staten Island by Race/Ethnicity, 2012 & 2017
Race / Ethnicity# of firms in 2012Share of total firms in 2012# of firms in 2017Share of total firms in 2017# Growth% Growth
Asian96312.3%1,21114.8%24825.8
Minority1,57120.0%1,68420.6%1137.2
White5,98876.3%6,29176.8%3035.1
Hispanic3995.1%N/A*N/A*N/A*N/A*
Black4075.2%N/A*N/A*N/A*N/A*

Source: Economic Census, 2012 Survey of Business Owners and 2017 Annual Business Survey, U.S. Census Bureau

Table 7: Share and Number of Employer Businesses in Manhattan by Race/Ethnicity, 2012 & 2017
Race / Ethnicity# of firms in 2012Share of total firms in 2012# of firms in 2017Share of total firms in 2017# Growth% Growth
Hispanic3,5924.1%33493.9%-243-6.8
Black or African American1,2551.4%1,8242.1%56945.3
Asian15,13917.4%15,87318.4%7344.8
Minority19,92722.9%20,59623.9%6693.4
White59,41468.4%59,83169.3%4170.7

Source: Economic Census, 2012 Survey of Business Owners and 2017 Annual Business Survey, U.S. Census Bureau

Notes
1. This report analyzes data from the U.S. Census 2017 Annual Business Survey, released in May 2020. We compare this data to the U.S. Census 2012 Survey of Business Owners, which was the most recent prior survey. The data only samples firms with employees.