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Census Bureau releases first-ever Native Hawaiian business counts

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent count of businesses gives a snapshot of Native Hawaiian entrepreneurship for the first time, as it has separated Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders out of the “Asian” category.

In 2002, the most recent of its every-five-year business counts, there were 28,948 Hawaiian/Pacific Islander businesses in the United States, with sales of $4.28 billion, the bureau reported. That translates to a relatively modest $147,837 in sales per business.

Native Hawaiians account for more than half of these businesses, 16,776. Native Samoans owned 2,204 firms, and Native Guamanians or members of Guam’s Chamorro tribe had 3,797. Since the census breaks out the firms by state but does not include the territories of American Samoa or Guam, it is possible these last two categories may be underrepresented.

The vast majority of these are single-owner businesses. Just 3,693 Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander-owned businesses reported employees, and these averaged about eight workers apiece. The 29,319 employees of these companies averaged about $28,000 in wages for 2002.

Those 3,693 firms with employees took in more than 75 percent of total receipts, $3.5 billion, meaning a lot of the single-owner businesses weren’t very lucrative. Those 25,255 single-owner businesses took in $777 million for 2002, averaging $30,783 apiece.

The retail category saw the most number of companies, 3,601. This was followed by the intriguingly named category “administrative and support and waste management and remediation services” category, with 3,362 businesses, and then the professional category, with 3,239 firms.

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In the professional category, the 321 Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander firms with employees had a payroll of $53.4 million, meaning the average worker received $39,499. Retail employees averaged $27,000 in wages.

Hawaii, not surprisingly, was the state with the largest number of these companies, at 8,359. Next came California, with 7,074; New York, at 3,005; Texas, 1,391; and Washington state, 728.

In tourist-friendly Hawaii, unsurprisingly, the retail category measured the most firms, 1,080, followed by construction, 972, and professional, 909. The retail firms pulled in $301 million, and the 131 firms with employees averaged $21,825 apiece.

In California, the professional category led, with 1,080 Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander firms. Transportation and warehouse firms came in second at 418, and real estate firms third at 402.

In New York, health care was the top category of firms, followed by retail.

Taken together with numbers the Census Bureau released in June on American Indian/Native Alaskan businesses, there were more than 225,000 Native firms in 2002, with sales of $30 billion. The bureau surveys businesses in years ending with 2 and 7 but typically does not release the results for three or four years after that, so the 2002 results are just coming out now.