Trend Watch: You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down

Trend Watch: You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down
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This story appears in the March 2012 issue of Startups. Subscribe »

American Express Open recently published a State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, documenting important trends among women-owned businesses from 1997 to 2011. As women continue to launch companies at a rate exceeding the national average (though their firms remain smaller than those owned by men), a look into the growth trends of their enterprises may provide important insight into small-business development. Here's to you, ladies.

  • As of 2011, it's estimated that there are more than 8.1 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., accounting for 29 percent of all enterprises, generating nearly $1.3 trillion in revenue and employing close to 7.7 million people.
  • Between 1997 and 2011, the number of women-owned firms increased by 50 percent, a rate one and a half times the national average. The number of firms owned by men, which represent 51 percent of all U.S. firms, grew by only 25 percent during that time, and employment in such firms has declined by nearly 5 percent since 1997.
  • The employment and sales growth of women-owned businesses between 1997 and 2011 (8 percent and 53 percent, respectively) lags behind the national average (17 percent and 71 percent, respectively), and women-owned firms employ only 6 percent of the country's work force and contribute slightly less than 4 percent of business revenue.
  • Over the past 14 years, in terms of revenue and employment, the share of women-owned firms at the highest levels of business accomplishment remains mostly unchanged: In 1997, 2.5 percent of women-owned businesses had 10 or more employees and 1.8 percent had $1 million or more in revenue; in 2011, 1.9 percent had 10 or more employees and 1.8 percent had $1 million or more in revenue.
  • Since 2002, the fastest growth in the number of women-owned firms has been in education services (up 54 percent), administrative and waste services (47 percent) and construction (41 percent).
  • The industries with the highest concentration of women-owned businesses are health care and social assistance (52 percent); educational services (46 percent); other services, including personal-care services such as beauty salons, pet-sitting, dry cleaners and automobile repair (41 percent); and administration and waste services (37 percent).
  • The industries with the lowest concentration are construction (a fast-growing industry for women as noted above, but where just 8 percent of firms are women-owned) and finance and insurance (20 percent).
Edition: September 2017

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