*In a surprise development, which analysts are at a loss to explain, African Americans are starting their own businesses at a record-setting pace.

According to a report last week from the U.S. Census Bureau, there was a 60.5 percent surge in the number of Black-owned businesses in America between 2002 and 2007.

Indeed, the Census Bureau labeled Black business growth “one of the fastest growing segments of the economy.”

Overall, the report (U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Business Owners) found that there were roughly 1.9 million Black-owned businesses in America generating $137.5 billion in total revenue. It also remains unclear as to what impact the recent recession, which started in December 2007, has had on Black business growth.

New York has the largest number of Black-owned businesses with 204,032. New York was followed by Georgia and Florida. As for the cities, New York City had a whopping 8.1 percent of the nation’s Black-owned businesses. Other major Black business centers were Houston, Texas and Detroit, Michigan – both with 1.7 percent of the nation’s Black-owned businesses.

Disproportionately, the Black-owned businesses are small operations. Of the 1.9 million, only about 107,000 had paid employees. Nevertheless, that number is an increase of 13 percent over 2002. Further, the number of African American businesses with revenue of $1 million or more was 14,507 – an increase of 35.4 percent between 2002 and 2007.