Interesting Asian American business statsBy Philip Dominguez Mercurio
I think it was a few months ago when I was listening to the car radio and a report came out that stated the number of Asian American businesses have increased in number by 25 percent, a stat said to have surpassed the national average by nearly fifty percent.
Those stats, taken by the U.S. Census Bureau, were just another confirmation of the model minority status that Asian Americans have garnered. The Census Bureau’s director Louis Kincannon is quoted online as saying, “The robust revenues of Asian-owned firms and the growth in the number of businesses provide yet another indicator that minority entrepreneurs are at the forefront as engines for growth in our economy.”
And the numbers – they’re pretty impressive if you ask me. For instance, the Chinese, a community slated as having upwards of 2.7 million people in America, had whopping 290,197 businesses, an incredible number making more than 10% of their population entrepreneurs. Alone, their businesses generated $106.3 billions dollars in 2002. Not bad.
Now, as impressed I was by those numbers on paper, I was wondering, were Filipino Americans also participating in this Asian American business “growth”?
Remember, we always brag we are the second largest Asian American group (and maybe even the largest by some officials, if you account for the undocumented) so, it would be logical that if we were as large in population in this country as the Chinese or Indians, we would have a similar number of businesses as they do.
Well, however logical we think about this, that logic doesn’t always follow thru though. Instead, we find the bureau reporting Filipino Americans operate only 128,223 businesses, a far cry from the almost 300,000 businesses the Chinese own. In fact, the U.S. census bureau records that Filipinos aren’t the second largest group of Asian American entrepreneurs. Not even the third or even fourth. We’re the only the fifth largest Asian group of entrepreneurs, with Vietnamese Americans having more businesses than us with 147,081 businesses. Statistically, therefore for every Filipino American entrepreneur, there are three Chinese and two Indian entrepreneurs.
And that’s not even the most interesting statistic I’ve found. Crunching the numbers, you could calculate the receipts an average Chinese American firm received annually to get the average revenue per Chinese business: $366,302.
Not bad. Indian, Korean and Japanese business also made an average of $384,983, $296,777 and $352,278 per business, respectively.
And how have Filipinos fared you ask? Simple calculation of our 128,223 businesses making cumulative revenue of $14.6 billion dollars (in 2002) comes out to an average of $114,062 per Filipino business. Yup. For every dollar the average Filipino American business makes, a Chinese American business would make three dollars.
Now, the reasons for the discrepancies – well, the U.S. Census doesn’t go into that. Could it be because many Filipino American businesses that are listed are not running, dragging down the average revenues of all our businesses? Or maybe because there happens to be a small portion of highly successful Chinese and Indian American businesses with revenues in the tens of millions, leading to much higher average revenues than us? Who really knows?
Indeed, if one was to ignore the extrapolations set forth by me above and take the numbers as there are, it paints a different picture – one that is not as rosy for our business community as the headline the U.S. Census Bureau entitled the press release to be. Indeed, compared to our other Asian American counterparts with robust growth, our stint with entrepreneurship has been relatively tame.
And that doesn’t seem to be a surprising result. Remember, for Filipinos in this regard, our emphasis is placed on achieving an education, where the end result would be a good paying job enabling us the ability to live carefree lives. Setting up a business, with all the hassles of all the licenses to get, the regulations to follow and most importantly the risk involved would seem folly for the average Filipino who would rather attain immediate stability by being hired by someone else permanently.
But hey – there may also be a bright side to this. Perhaps, these statistics also suggest that since there is still a lot of territory to cover within our own community that we have yet to tap, we may have a whole lot of growth to fill in the future. There is bound to be much more business opportunities within our community we have yet to dig for since the ratio of our own businesses to our population is really low in comparison to other Asian Americans.
So let’s start exploring. - PDM
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