A look at Black-owned businesses in the US by sector, state and more

The owner of Marcus Book Store, the oldest Black-owned bookstore in the U.S., talks with her employee about a shop display in Oakland, California, in December 2021. (Amy Osborne/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
The owner of Marcus Book Store, the oldest Black-owned bookstore in the U.S., talks with her employee about a shop display in Oakland, California, in December 2021. (Amy Osborne/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

More than one-in-five Black adults in the United States say owning a business is essential to financial success, according to a September 2023 Pew Research Center survey. While Black-owned businesses have grown significantly in the U.S. in recent years, they still make up a small share of overall firms and revenue, according to our analysis of federal data.

Pew Research Center conducted this analysis to examine the characteristics of Black-owned businesses in the United States. The analysis relies primarily on data from the 2022 Annual Business Survey (ABS), conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics.

The survey – conducted annually since 2017 – includes all non-farm U.S. firms with paid employees and receipts of $1,000 or more in 2021. Firms are defined as businesses “consisting of one or more domestic establishments under its ownership or control.” Majority business ownership is characterized in the survey as having 51% or more of the stock or equity in the firm. The Census Bureau counts multiracial firm owners under all racial categories they identify with; Hispanic firm owners may be of any race. Read more about the ABS methodology.

A bar chart showing that about 3% of U.S. businesses were Black-or African American-owned in 2021.

In 2021, there were 161,031 U.S. firms with majority Black or African American ownership, up from 124,004 in 2017, according to the latest estimates from the Annual Business Survey (ABS), conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Science Foundation. Black-owned firms’ gross revenue soared by 43% during this timespan, from an estimated $127.9 billion in 2017 to $183.3 billion in 2021.

Despite this growth, majority Black-owned businesses made up only about 3% of all U.S. firms that were classifiable by the race and ethnicity of their owners in 2021. And they accounted for just 1% of gross revenue from all classifiable companies that year. By comparison, in 2021, roughly 14% of all Americans were Black.

As has long been the case, White majority-owned businesses made up the greatest share of classifiable firms (85%) and their revenue (93%) in 2021. About one-in-ten classifiable firms (11%) were majority-owned by Asian Americans, and no more than 7% had majority ownership by someone from another racial and ethnic group.

A note on classifiable companies