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Closing the Black employer gap: Insights from the latest data on Black-owned businesses
Brookings
2024.03.04
Throughout 2021, the United States saw immense public investment to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic effects. At the same time, social movements for racial equity rallied many Americans to “Buy Black” and support Black-owned businesses.
That year, the number of Black-owned employer businesses (businesses with more than one employee) increased by 14.3% from the prior year. In fact, according to the Census Bureau’s Annual Business Survey, the number of Black-owned employer businesses grew consecutively from 2017 to 2021. Black-owned employer businesses also had the highest percentage increases in employees (7%), revenue (30%), and payroll (27%) in 2021 compared to white, Asian American, Latino or Hispanic, and Native American employer businesses.
But even so, the overall share of Black-owned employer businesses remained disproportionately low relative to their share of the U.S. population: In 2021, Black Americans represented 2.7% of employers, yet made up 14.4% of the population. Comparatively, white Americans owned 82% of employer businesses and made up 72.5% of the population, while Asian Americans owned 10.9% of employer business and made up 6.3% of the population. Latino or Hispanic and Native Americans1 also had disproportionately low shares, representing 6.9% and 0.8% of employer business owners yet 19.1% and 2.6% of the population, respectively.
This interactive report gives insights on Black-owned businesses by providing summary statistics on the latest data from 2021 and reflections on trends in Black business ownership since 2017. Trends are presented nationally and for metro areas across the U.S, illustrating which cities were most hospitable to Black business owners.