March 20, 2011 in Business

Survey shows growth in Native American businesses


ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Businesses owned by Alaska Natives and American Indians have shown some growth, but the increase has failed to equal more jobs, according to the latest findings in a survey conducted every five years by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Survey results released last week show the number of Indian- and Alaska Native-owned businesses increased nearly 18 percent from 2002 to 2007, while the number of paid workers they employed dropped by nearly 4 percent during that time.

However, officials noted the study was completed before the Great Recession and did not include businesses that are tribally owned, such as casinos.

According to the survey, almost 237,000 businesses brought in a total of more than $34 billion in receipts in 2007, a 28 percent increase from 2002. The number of businesses represents an increase of almost 18 percent.

Most of the businesses were owner-operated and had no employees. The remaining 23,704 businesses had about 184,400 paid employees, a 3.6 percent drop.

The Census Bureau survey does not include tribally owned businesses, or businesses and subsidiaries owned by Alaska Native regional or village corporations. Officials acknowledged those businesses contribute significantly to tribal economies.

“They’re always left out, and it’s because they’re considered government-owned, and government-owned businesses are out of scope of the survey of business owners,” Census Bureau Deputy Director Thomas Mesenbourg Jr. said in a teleconference.

The survey also does not reflect the later recession, which hit Indian Country especially hard, according to another teleconference speaker, according to Christina Daulton with the National Congress of American Indians. She said the American Indian unemployment rate increased nationally nearly 8 percentage points to more than 15 percent from the first half of 2007 to the first half of 2010. That jump was 1.6 times the size of the increase for whites, she said.

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