Highlighting America’s Veteran-Owned Small Businesses

By Karen Villatoro, Regulatory Economist

November is National Veterans and Military Families Month, making it the perfect time to spotlight veteran-owned small businesses. According to the 2018 Annual Business Survey (ABS), veteran business owners accounted for 6.1% (351,237) of all U.S. employer businesses, and employ approximately 4 million workers. Census Bureau’s Nonemployer Statistics by Demographics (NES-D) data find that approximately 6 percent of receipts from all nonemployer firms are from veteran-owned firms. The 2015 Census Annual Community Survey (ACS) reports that, among veterans, post-9/11 veterans are the group most likely to be engaged in the labor force. NES-D also reports that the sectors with the largest shares of receipts from veteran-owned firms are Transportation; Utilities; and Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction. Veteran entrepreneurship is a major contributor to the U.S. economy, and, for several years, the Office of Advocacy has produced research highlighting their contributions to the economy.

One forthcoming project from Advocacy’s Office of Economic Research, entitled “Millennial Veteran Entrepreneurship: Research on the Next Generation of Veteran Entrepreneurs,” is expected to be released later this year. Using data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS), the report studies entrepreneurship outcomes for millennial veterans. The report analyzes entrepreneurial outcomes for a variety of millennial veterans including minorities, women, and the service-connected disabled. It also compares millennial veteran entrepreneurs to veteran entrepreneurs of past generations.

Research and data on business owner demographics, especially veteran entrepreneurs, are helpful for evaluating the health of veteran small businesses. This data has been recently updated in a variety of products across the federal government. One upcoming product is the Census Bureau, Nonemployer Demographic Statistics (NES-D), which provides estimates of nonemployer businesses by race, ethnicity, sex, and veteran status, and replaces the nonemployer portion of the Survey of Business Owners (SBO). Historically, the SBO was the only source of information for U.S. nonemployer businesses by veteran status. However, the NES-D will provide veteran data from the 2017 reference year of nonemployers. The expanded pool of veteran data will allow better crafting of policy by lawmakers. A summary of the prototype NES-D can be found here.  To learn more about ACS data, please review the presentation and materials located here. The Census Bureau has developed a webinar discussing current veteran statistics on its webpage here.

For past related research on veteran-owned businesses from Advocacy, check out the following:

For more information on veteran statistics, check out the following resources:

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