What would Main Street America look like without immigrants?
Picture vastly fewer restaurants (37% of the industry’s ownership is foreign-born), hotels and accommodation (43% foreign-born ownership), dry cleaning and laundry facilities (54% foreign-born), and nail salons (37%). It would be that much harder to go out for a treat (bakeries, 32% immigrant-owned), fill up the tank (gas stations, 53%), or grab a bottle of wine on the way to a dinner party (beer, wine and liquor stores, 42%).
As President Barack Obama announces a big shift in immigration policy that will offer greater leniency to individuals under 30 who came into the United States as undocumented children, a new report from the New York-based Fiscal Policy Institute highlights just how broad a role immigrants play in the world’s largest economy.
In his speech this week, President Barack Obama hinted at the new policy:
If we truly want to make this country a destination for talent and ingenuity from all over the world, we won’t deport hardworking, responsible young immigrants who have grown up here or received advanced degrees here. We’ll let them earn the chance to become American citizens so they can grow our economy and start new businesses right here instead of someplace else.
Most people have a notion of how immigrants contribute to their community’s economy. Take an inventory of any main street or downtown area, and you’re likely to find more than a few small businesses – doctors’ offices, nail salons, grocery stores – whose owners hail from overseas. The Fiscal Policy Institute report is the first survey to take a macro look at the state of small business ownership among immigrants across the country. It found that immigrants are not just employees, but increasingly, employers.
The immigrant share of small business owners, at 18 percent, is higher than the immigrant share of the overall population (13 percent) and the immigrant share of the labor force (16 percent).