Home / Economy / Articles / How many Black-owned businesses are there in the US?

The Annual Business Survey (ABS) recorded 161,031 Black-owned businesses in the US as of 2021. These businesses employed over 1.4 million people and generated about $206.1 billion in revenue (adjusting for inflation to 2023 dollars).

The ABS identified 5.9 million businesses whose ownership could be classified by race.[1] These businesses generated over $19.5 trillion, while Black-owned enterprises accounted for 2.8% of these businesses and 1.1% of their revenue — but those numbers have been rising steadily for the past few years.

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Since 2017, the number of Black-owned businesses has grown 29.9%, nearly eight times the growth rate of all US businesses, regardless of ownership. Employee numbers in these businesses rose by 16.5%, in contrast with the 2.1% employee decline across all businesses nationwide.

Revenue and payroll in Black-owned businesses have also outpaced the general business average: revenues are up 29.7% and payroll 34.4%,  versus 23.8% and 16.2% overall (again, after adjusting for inflation).

Black-owned businesses by industry

In 2021, 27.9% of all Black-owned businesses — 45,015 individual enterprises — were in the healthcare and social assistance sector which includes physician’s offices, hospitals, medical laboratories, nursing homes, and youth and family service centers.

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Black-owned businesses are notably more concentrated in these industries, with only 10.0% of non-Black-owned businesses operating in healthcare and social assistance.

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Black-owned businesses also have greater representation in enterprises dealing with transportation and warehousing, and less representation in retail trade, construction, accommodation and food services, and real estate.

Where does this data come from?

The Census Bureau’s Annual Business Survey (ABS) collects information on selected economic and demographic characteristics for businesses and business owners: sex, ethnicity, race, and veteran status. The ABS also measures research and development for microbusinesses, business topics such as innovation and technology, as well as other business characteristics.

The ABS names itself after the collection year (when the survey is conducted) rather than the reference year (the period the data pertains to), so “ABS 2021” reports data from 2020.

For certain characteristics of businesses, including race and ethnicity of ownership, the ABS categorizes businesses as “classifiable” and “non-classifiable.” Classifiable businesses are those for whom the owner’s sex, ethnicity, race, and veteran status is known. Unclassifiable businesses include publicly held and other firms whose ownership can’t be identified by demographics.

Although 96.4% of businesses in the 2021 ABS can be categorized by owner demographics, these classifiable firms account for less than half of the total employees, revenues, and payrolls. Non-classifiable businesses account for 50.2% of those employed in businesses, 58.0% of payroll expenses, and 60.5% of gross revenues.

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In the context of this article, businesses refer to those companies or firms where ownership is classifiable by sex, ethnicity, race, and veteran status. Non-classifiable businesses make up a large portion of total business revenues, which is explained further in the “Where does this data come from?” section.