Between 2002 and 2007, the number of black-owned businesses in the United States increased by 61 percent to 1.9 million. It was a growth rate more than triple the 18 percent rate for all businesses. Black-owned firms also saw their receipts rise 55 percent to $137.5 billion during those years.
It is a great snapshot provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, but there are shadows. Every five years, the Survey of Business Owners takes the entrepreneurial pulse of black-owned businesses. The hitch is that the data were collected in 2007, before the Great Recession hit millions of U.S. businesses, workers and consumers, and doesn't reflect reality for many of those groups today.
Marc Morial, the president and CEO of the National Urban League, addressed that issue when speaking about the survey's release. He said that company building has been affected by the downturn, but that necessity has always driven black entrepreneurship. He added that the difficulty for most black would-be entrepreneurs is gaining access to capital and connections.
There are also disparities between black and nonblack businesses when it comes to average receipts and number of employees. The survey reports that only 12.7 percent of African-American companies have annual revenues of more than $50,000, and 68 percent have four or fewer employees.