States See Black Business Boom

Black business growth significantly outpaced the national average, according to the U. S. Census Bureau’s latest Survey of Business Owners. While the number of U.S. businesses increased by 10% between 1997 and 2002, from roughly 20.8 million to 23 million, the number of black-owned businesses grew 45%, from 824,000 to 1.2 million.

In 2002, black businesses pulled in $92.7 billion, a 30% increase over five years. Receipts for the 94,862 black-owned businesses with paid employees totaled $69.8 billion; the 1.1 million black-owned businesses without paid employees had receipts of $22.9 billion, up 54% from 1997.

African Americans own a fourth of the businesses in Washington, D.C., and black-owned businesses accounted for between 12% and 15% of all firms in Maryland, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Among the states with the largest African American populations, Michigan had a turbocharged 78% growth in black-owned businesses; Florida a hot 71%. Downsizing within the automobile industry may have inspired some black residents of Michigan to become entrepreneurs, suspects David Swinton, a member of the black enterprise Board of Economists.

Clues to what’s driving growth, says Swinton, are contained within industry breakouts by state. Thirty-eight percent of black-owned businesses, for example, operated in the healthcare and other service industries. Another possibility is that the black business community is experiencing an economic take-off that is strong enough to keep high growth going.

“That would be more interesting than if this is just an artificial high rate of business development brought on by job-market recession,” says Swinton. Further breakdowns will be released in the second quarter of 2006 in the SBO report Black-Owned Businesses.