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Ownership Characteristics of Classifiable U.S. Exporting Firms: 2007

Survey of Business Owners Special Report - Highlights

Issued June 2012

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In 2007, classifiable U.S. exporting firms1 (i.e., the 163,419 identified exporting businesses whose owners were classifiable by their gender, ethnicity, race, and veteran status) accounted for the bulk (82.5 percent) of all U.S. identified exporters (198,081 firms), but a much smaller share (17.6 percent or $170 billion) of the total value of identifiable U.S. exports ($963 billion).

Relatively few (163,419 or 0.6 percent) of the 26.3 million classifiable U.S. firms were exporters, but these firms were on average much larger in terms of receipts and employment, and more productive, than classifiable U.S. nonexporting firms.

  • In 2007, the 163,419 classifiable U.S. exporting firms generated 25.1 percent (or $2.8 trillion) of all classifiable U.S. businesses' total receipts ($10.9 trillion). The average value of receipts per firm for classifiable U.S. exporting firms was $16.8 million compared with $313,689 for classifiable U.S. nonexporting firms.
  • The average number of employees at classifiable U.S. exporting employer firms was 56; the comparable number for their nonexporting counterparts was 10.
  • Average productivity (i.e., receipts per employee) for classifiable U.S. exporting employer firms was $323,897; the comparable calculation for classifiable U.S. nonexporting employer firms was $150,946.

U.S. women- and minority-owned exporting firms accounted for disproportionately small shares of all classifiable U.S. exporting firms relative to their numbers.

  • In 2007, women in the United States owned 19,739 exporting businesses or 12.1 percent of all classifiable exporting businesses nationwide. In contrast, women owned about 7.8 million (29.6 percent) of all classifiable businesses nationwide (26.3 million).
  • In 2007, minorities in the United States owned 28,531 exporting businesses or 17.5 percent of all classifiable exporting businesses nationwide. In contrast, minorities owned about 5.8 million (21.9 percent) of all classifiable businesses nationwide (26.3 million).

Exports accounted for a larger portion of the receipts of U.S. minority-owned exporting firms than they did for U.S. nonminority-owned exporting firms.

  • In 2007, exports accounted for 14.4 percent ($30.6 billion) of total receipts ($212.3 billion) for U.S. minority-owned exporters compared with 5.4 percent ($137.4 billion) of total receipts ($2.5 trillion) for U.S. nonminority-owned exporters.

U.S. Hispanic and Asian entrepreneurs targeted different markets than their nonminority peers, increasing the global reach of U.S. businesses.

  • In 2007, trade with twenty Latin American countries2 accounted for 81.1 percent of the total export value ($9.5 billion) generated by U.S. Hispanic-owned exporting firms; the corresponding percentage for nonminority-owned exporting firms was 15.1 percent.
  • In 2007, trade with the Pacific Rim countries3 accounted for 56.9 percent of the total export value ($19.7 billion) generated by U.S. Asian-owned exporting firms; the corresponding percentage for nonminority-owned firms was 21.9 percent.


1 The official estimate of U.S. exports in 2007 was $1.162 trillion (U.S. Census Bureau, "A Profile of U.S. Exporting Companies, 2007-2008."). Of that total, about $1.034 trillion was attributable to "identified exporters," specific companies to which the Census Bureau was able to match specific export transactions. In 2007, there were 268,526 identified exporters. About 67,000 identified exporters (with about $92 billion in exports) were out-of-scope to the SBO or did not match to the SBO universe. These included firms without reported sales, payroll, and employment; firms operating primarily in out-of-scope industries, such as crop and animal production; and firms located in American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The remaining 201,000 identified exporters were subject to SBO sampling. Of these companies, about 198,000 (weighted) were selected into the SBO sample. All estimates in this report are based on these sampled identified exporters. Estimated total exports for these sampled identified exporters were $963 billion. Estimated total exports by about 35,000 publicly held and other unclassifiable firms were $793 billion. Estimated total exports for the remaining 163,000 classifiable firms (i.e., firms classifiable by gender, ethnicity, race, and veteran status) were $170 billion.

2 Includes Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

3 Includes Australia, Brunei, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Macao, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, and Taiwan.

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Survey of Business Owners | (301) 763-3316 | csd.sbo@census.gov Last Revised: November 16, 2012