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Eddie Salyers
Valerie Strang

1997 Revenues for Women-Owned Businesses Show Continued Growth,
Census Bureau Reports

Women-owned businesses in the United States totaled 5.4 million, employed 7.1 million people and generated $818.7 billion in receipts in 1997, according to a report released today by the Commerce Department's Census Bureau.

While definitional changes affect direct comparability of the 1997 and 1992 Economic Census data, adjustments made to the aggregate data for both years permit approximate comparisons. Based on these data, the number of women-owned firms increased 16 percent between 1992 and 1997, almost triple the rate of 6 percent for all firms (excluding publicly held corporations); their receipts, meanwhile, increased 33 percent, compared with a 24 percent increase for all firms.

The 1997 Economic Census defines women-owned businesses as privately held firms in which women own 51 percent or more of the firm. In the 1992 survey, businesses were counted as women-owned if women owned 50 percent or more of the firm; this included publicly held firms based on assumptions about the gender of the majority of their stockholders, as well as firms which were jointly owned by women and their spouses.

The 1997 data show that in addition to the 5.4 million majority women-owned firms, there were 3.6 million jointly owned (husband-wife) firms with $943.9 billion in receipts, 2.0 million of which would have been counted as women-owned in 1997 using the 1992 definition and methodology.

As of 1997, privately held majority women-owned firms made up 26 percent of the nation's 20.8 million nonfarm businesses and 4.4 percent of the $18.6 trillion in receipts for all businesses.

The vast majority of these women-owned firms (4.6 million or 85 percent) were sole proprietorships -- unincorporated businesses owned by individuals. Only 314,700 or 6 percent of the women-owned firms included in the Economic Census were C corporations (which constitute all legally incorporated businesses, except for subchapter S corporations, whose shareholders elect to be taxed as individuals rather than as corporations), but they accounted for $366.8 billion or 45 percent of the receipts of all women-owned firms.

Four states -- California (700,500), New York (394,000), Texas (381,500) and Florida (337,800) -- accounted for 33 percent of the firms that were 51 percent or more owned by women.

States With the Largest Number of Women-Owned Firms: 1997
Geographic area Women-owned firms Percent of total women-
owned firms in U.S.
U.S. Total 5,417,000  
California 700,500 12.9
New York 394,000 7.3
Texas 381,500 7.0
Florida 337,800 6.2
Illinois 239,700 4.4
Ohio 205,000 3.8
Pennsylvania 203,000 3.7
Michigan 184,600 3.4
New Jersey 155,300 2.9
Georgia 145,600 2.7

 While California had the largest number of women-owned businesses, the District of Columbia showed the largest percentage of firms owned by women. Thirty-one percent or 14,000 of the District's 45,300 firms were women-owned. New Mexico, where women owned 29 percent or 38,700 of New Mexico's 131,700 firms ranked second; and Maryland, also with almost 29 percent or 115,800 of that state's 400,200 firms being women-owned, was third.

States With the Largest Percentage of Women-Owned Firms: 1997
Geographic area Women-owned firms All firms Women-owned firms as a percent of all firms
District of Columbia 14,000 45,300 30.9
New Mexico 38,700 131,700 29.4
Maryland 115,800 400,200 28.9
Colorado 114,800 410,200 28.0
Oregon 80,500 291,600 27.6
Virginia 132,200 480,100 27.5
Washington 123,000 447,400 27.5
Hawaii 25,800 94,000 27.5
California 700,500 2,565,700 27.3
Michigan 184,600 677,500 27.2

Women-owned firms tended to be smaller than firms overall. Nearly 69 percent of women-owned businesses had less than $25,000 in receipts, compared with 53 percent of all firms; while 2 percent of women-owned firms had more than $1 million in receipts compared with 5 percent for all businesses.

The survey shows that 16 percent or 846,800 of women-owned firms had paid employees. These firms accounted for 88 percent of the gross receipts of women-owned businesses. About 7,400 firms had 100 employees or more and these firms accounted for $248.3 billion in gross receipts (35 percent of the total receipts of women-owned employer firms).

Seven out of 10 women-owned firms operated in the services and retail trade industries. Forty-one percent of the receipts generated by women-owned firms were concentrated in these industries.

Data in the report, 1997 Survey of Women-Owned Business Enterprises, were collected as part of the Economic Census from a sample of nonfarm businesses filing tax forms as sole proprietorships, partnerships or any type of corporation that had receipts of $1,000 or more in 1997. The data cover women-owned businesses by size and type of business, as well as by geographic area (states, counties, metropolitan areas and places).

The data were collected in a sample survey and are subject to sampling variability, as well as nonsampling errors. Sources of nonsampling error include errors of response, nonreporting and coverage. Further details concerning survey design, methodology and data limitations are contained in the full report.


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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Survey of Business Owners | 1-800-242-2184 | | Last Revised: September 29, 2014