U.S. Census Bureau's Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs

Largest annual survey of entrepreneurs ever done in the U.S. to provide more frequent and extensive data than previously available



We now know more about American entrepreneurs than ever before, thanks to a major public-private partnership among the U.S. Census Bureau, the Kauffman Foundation and the Minority Business Development Agency. The Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs will supplement the Survey of Business Owners (SBO), conducted every five years.

The Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs provides a timely, more frequent socio-economic portrait of the nation’s employer businesses by gender, ethnicity, race and veteran status. It includes a relevant topic not found in the SBO: the number of years a firm has been in business. It also includes extensive geographical coverage, with data at the national level, all fifty states, and the fifty largest metropolitan areas in the country. 

The Story of American Entrepreneurs

The first Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs data were made public on Sept. 1, 2016, covering the year of 2014. Examples of the data available include:

  • Among the 5.4 million U.S. firms with paid employees, 481,981, or 8.9 percent, had been in business for less than two years in 2014.
  • In contrast to the employer firms that had been in business for less than two years, there were 167,917, or 3.1 percent, that had been in business for 16 years or more. More than 4 in 10 employer firms (2.4 million, or 44.1 percent) have been in business between 11 and 15 years.
  • There were 949,318 minority-owned firms with paid employees, comprising 17.5 percent of all employer firms. These minority-owned employer firms generated $1.1 trillion in receipts (approximately 3.3 percent of the receipts for all employer firms). Among minority-owned employer firms, 12.9 percent had been in business for less than two years, while only 1.4 percent had been in business for 16 or more years.
  • Of the 949,318 minority-owned firms with paid employees, more than half (506,595, or 53.4 percent) were Asian-owned; 108,473 (11.4 percent) were black or African-American-owned; 26,757 (2.8 percent) were American Indian or Alaska Native-owned; 4,701 (0.5 percent) were Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander-owned; and close to a third (298,563, or 31.5 percent) were Hispanic-owned. The owner of a Hispanic-owned firm may be of any race.
  • Women owned approximately 1.1 million employer firms, or 19.4 percent, with receipts totaling $1.3 trillion, or 4.0 percent. Of these, 10.8 percent had been in business for less than two years, whereas 1.9 percent had been in business for 16 or more years.

Each year’s release of the Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs will contain a module focusing on different topics.

The newly released Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs statistics are not directly comparable to the Survey of Business Owners due to significant changes in methodologies. 

For more information about the survey, including design, methodology and data limitations, see www.census.gov/programs-surveys/ase.html.