Skip to main content

Reservation Nonemployer and Employer Establishments: Data from U.S. Census Longitudinal Business Databases

CICD Working Papers 2018-01 | Published April 30, 2018

Download PDF


Randall Akee University of California, Los Angeles
Elton Mykerezi University of Minnesota
Richard M. Todd Former Vice President and Advisor to the CICD
Reservation Nonemployer and Employer Establishments: Data from U.S. Census Longitudinal Business Databases


The presence of businesses on American Indian reservations has been difficult to analyze due to limited data. Akee, Mykerezi, and Todd (AMT; 2017) geocoded confidential data from the U.S. Census Longitudinal Business Database to identify whether employer establishments were located on or off American Indian reservations and then compared federally recognized reservations and nearby county areas with respect to their per capita number of employers and jobs. We use their methods and the U.S. Census Integrated Longitudinal Business Database to develop parallel results for nonemployer establishments and for the combination of employer and nonemployer establishments. Similar to AMT’s findings, we find that reservations and nearby county areas have a similar sectoral distribution of nonemployer and nonemployer-plus-employer establishments, but reservations have significantly fewer of them in nearly all sectors, especially when the area population is below 15,000. By contrast to AMT, the average size of reservation nonemployer establishments, as measured by revenue (instead of the jobs measure AMT used for employers), is smaller than the size of nonemployers in nearby county areas, and this is true in most industries as well. The most significant exception is in the retail sector. Geographic and demographic factors, such as population density and per capita income, statistically account for only a small portion of these differences. However, when we assume that nonemployer establishments create the equivalent of one job and use combined employer-plus-nonemployer jobs to measure establishment size, the employer job numbers dominate and we parallel AMT’s finding that, due to large job counts in the Arts/Entertainment/Recreation and Public Administration sectors, reservations on average have slightly more jobs per resident than nearby county areas.