Refugee business ownership in America statistics | finder.com

Breaking down business barriers

Every year, refugees from all over the world leave their country to start anew elsewhere in hopes of creating a better life for themselves and the generations to come after them.

But how do these asylum seekers make ends meet when they arrive in a new country that’ll be their home for the unforeseeable future?

As it turns out in the US, there’s no shortage of business for refugees to set up shop in. You may be surprised to see how many different sectors of the economy refugees contribute to — and how much they have the potential to earn.

Refugee entrepreneurship at a glance

There are 180,000 refugee entrepreneurs in the United States collectively earning $4,600,000,000 in income — an average of $25,555 per person.

Credit: New American Economy

State Number of refugees Spending power % of total # of refugees (2,222,482)
CA 645,437 $17.24 billion 29.04%
NY 139,529 $3.99 billion 6.28%
TX 117,719 $4.62 billion 5.30%
IL 95,259 $2.40 billion 4.29%
MN 94,175 $1.79 billion 4.24%
VA 86,847 $2.55 billion 3.91%

With the exception of Minnesota and Virginia, four states — California, New York, Texas and Illinois — were ranked in the top five for both refugee spending power and number of refugees.

What are the top 5 states by refugee spending power?

What are the top 5 states that host refugees?

What businesses do these refugee entrepreneurs participate In?

% of Businesses # of Entrepreneurs
General services 26.10% 4,724
Retail trade 11.20% 2,027
Transportation 10.70% 19,367
Tourism 9.40% 17,014
Health care 9.20% 16,652
Construction 7.20% 13,032
Scientific services 7.00% 12,670
Admin support 4.10% 7,421
Manufacturing 4.00% 7,240
Real estate 3.30% 5,973
Wholesale trade 2.40% 4,344
Finance 1.70% 3,077
Agriculture & misc 1.70% 3,077
Education 1.20% 2,172
Information 0.70% 1,267
Other 0.10% 181

What is the median wage for a refugee?

  • For refugees who’ve resided in the US for zero to five years, the median annual wage is $21,782.
  • Refugees who’ve been a part of the US workforce for five to 15 years earn $36,886 per year.
  • Refugees working for 16 to 25 years earn $51,113, which is just shy of the US median household income.
  • The median refugee salary after working for 25 years is $67,000 — surpassing the US median income of $56,277.

Credit: US Census Bureau

How long will it take refugees in 50 states to surpass the US median wage of $56,277?

How many minority owned businesses are there?

How do refugees finance their businesses?

Bottom line

The fabric of America was founded on the idea of opportunity and that entrepreneurial spirit is still evident today with business loans and financing options being accessible as ever. It appears that the American dream continues to live on for citizens, minorities and refugees alike.


For media inquiries:

Jennifer McDermott

Consumer advocate helping people improve their personal finances.

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