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Research

Who is the Entrepreneur? The Changing Diversity of New Entrepreneurs in the United States, 1996-2020

Is entrepreneurship becoming more diverse in the United States? This brief details trends in the share of new entrepreneurs by sex, race and ethnicity, age, and nativity in the U.S. between 1996 and 2020.

New entrepreneurs represent entrepreneurial activity broadly defined, capturing employers and non-employers and incorporated and unincorporated businesses. The rate of new entrepreneurs reflects the adult, non-business owner population that starts a new business each month. It is a yearly average, and it measures business owners regardless of business size, origin, growth potential, or intentions.

Many of the demographic trends in the share of new entrepreneurs coincide with broader changes in the composition of the national population in the United States. These include broader shifts in the racial and ethnic make-up of the population; a national population that is not only getting older and living longer, but also working at older ages; and overall immigration flows.

Highlights

  • In 2020, about 4 in 10 new entrepreneurs were women, consistent with recent years but reflecting an overall larger gap since 1996.
  • In 2020, more than half of new entrepreneurs were white and about 1 in 5 were Latino. Between 2019 and 2020, the share of new entrepreneurs who were Black increased slightly, and the share who were Asian, Latino, and white decreased slightly. The overall trend since 1996 has been a decline in the share of new entrepreneurs who are white, and an increase in the share who are Asian, Black, and Latino.
  • New entrepreneurs were largely under 44 years old in 1996, and were more likely to represent all ages by 2020.
  • More than 1 in 4 new entrepreneurs in 2020 were foreign-born, more than double the share in 1996.
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