The once steady rise in immigrant entrepreneurship has stalled in the United States, threatening to further slow an already sluggish economic recovery.
Over the past six years, the proportion of new companies founded by foreign-born individuals has slipped to 24.3 percent from 25.3 percent, according to a Kauffman Foundation survey published Tuesday. This updated previous studies showing a boom in immigrant entrepreneurship over previous decades.
The group’s researchers now wonder whether “the period of unprecedented expansion of immigrant-led entrepreneurship that characterized the 1980s and 1990s has come to a close.”
The drop is even more pronounced in the nation’s preeminent start-up community, Silicon Valley, where the number of new firms with at least one immigrant founder dropped to 43.9 percent from 52.4 percent in 2005.
“I knew the numbers were slowing, but that was shocking, and that’s when I realized this was worse than we thought,” Vivek Wadhwa, director of research at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering, said in an interview about the study, which compiled data from 1,882 firms nationally that were started in the past six years. (Wadhwa writes a column for The Washington Post.)