On March 16, eight people were massacred at three different spas in the Atlanta area, six of them older Asian women. The murders highlighted a significant rise in anti-Asian violence and hate crimes in the US during the pandemic, as well as the large number of vulnerable Asian business owners who cannot switch to remote work.
One of the victims on March 16 was Xiaojie Tan, the registered owner of Young’s Asian Massage in the Georgia town of Acworth and another spa location in Kennesaw. Four of the other people killed during attacks on March 16 were of Korean descent, The Korea Herald reports.
In addition to Tan’s registration as a licensed massage therapist in the state, she was part of a larger phenomenon: the disproportionate Asian ownership of publicly-serving businesses in the US. People who identify at least in part as Asian only make up 7.3% of the US population, but they own a significant portion of public-facing businesses like restaurants, hotels, and stores. People of Asian heritage own 26.6% of the US’s accommodation and food services firms and 17% of retail trade businesses in 2018, according to a Quartz analysis of the US Census Bureau’s Annual Business Survey.
Business owners of Asian descent in the US are also much more likely to own hotels, restaurants, and retail stores compared to business owners of all other races. People of Asian descent are the second most-likely racial group in the US to own a healthcare or social assistance business.
In metro areas with large Asian populations like Honolulu, San Jose, California, and San Francisco the share of Asian-owned business ownership is highest in the nation. The data show more than one out of every four businesses of any type in those areas was owned by a person of Asian descent in 2018.