NJPP finds immigrant-owned small businesses have $4.4B impact on N.J. economy

New Jersey Policy Perspective released a report Monday highlighting the $4.4 billion economic impact from immigrant-owned small businesses in the state.

While a majority of small businesses remain owned by individuals born in the U.S., the state’s share of immigrant-owned businesses makes it second to California, at 47 percent.

This despite the fact that immigrants make up only 22 percent of the state’s population.

The clusters of small business types where immigrants make up the majority include dry cleaners, grocery stores and bodegas, housekeeping and household maintenance, transportation services, nail salons, computer services, restaurants and clothing stores.

Of the small businesses, the number of so-called “Main Street” shops that are owned by immigrants also has increased — and they account for $1 billion of the $4.4 billion annually generated in the state. They include small businesses focused on neighborhood services, accommodation and food services, and retail, NJPP noted.

“New Jersey’s immigrant population has doubled since 1990, and the shares of immigrants in the labor force and immigrant business owners have grown along with it,” according to the report from NJPP policy analyst Erika Nava.

“In 2016, immigrants made up 31 percent of New Jersey’s business owners and 28 percent of the labor force, up from 18 percent and 15 percent, respectively, in 1990. The immigrant share of Main Street business owners has also grown tremendously, doubling over the same time — to 47 percent in 2016 from 24 percent in 1990.”

Asians and Hispanics are more likely to open new businesses, with Asians accounting for 54 percent of owners, according to the report.

“New Jerseyans born outside of the U.S. are an asset not only to the state’s culture, but also to its broader economy,” Nava said.

“Policymakers and the public alike should recognize the contributions of immigrants and the vital role they play on Main Streets in every corner of the state. It is in everyone’s best interest to have proactive policies that allow immigrants to prosper and feel safe and secure here in the Garden State. When immigrants do better, we all do better.”