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Women-Owned Businesses

Tue Dec 07 2010
Written by: Tom Mesenbourg, Deputy Director, US Census Bureau
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In recent decades, the role of women in the United States has undergone significant changes. Data from the Census Bureau allow us to track and quantify these changes over time. For example, demographic trends show women are having fewer children than in the past, and at a later age. Women have also been outpacing men in college graduation rates.

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Additionally, the percentage of women making up the workforce has risen. Perhaps it comes as no surprise, then, that there has been a measurable increase in the number of women-owned businesses.

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Today, the Census Bureau released new data from the Survey of Business Owners: Women-Owned Businesses: 2007, showing us a more complete picture of women in business and their role in our nation’s economy. Conducted every five years as part of the economic census, the Survey of Business Owners first included questions about women-owned businesses in 1972.

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Thirty-five years later, women-owned businesses accounted for 29 percent of all businesses. Additionally, businesses that are equally owned by men and women accounted for another 17 percent of all businesses. Combined, these two figures show that women are majority or equal owners with men of 45 percent — nearly half — of all U.S. businesses.

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Data from the Survey of Business Owners allow us to look at business ownership by gender over time, across a variety of industries, and to compare the differences in business ownership between men and women. They give us a window into U.S. businesses and business owners.

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The latest survey shows that, in some industries, women controlled a significant share of the businesses. Women owned the majority of businesses (52 percent) operating in the health care and social assistance industry, and accounted for 40 percent of businesses operating in both repair maintenance and personal laundry services industry.

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Women-owned businesses have a major economic impact. In 2007, women-owned businesses in the U.S. employed 8.2 million workers and generated $1.3 trillion in receipts.

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Women have served as governors and cabinet secretaries, and have headed up major corporations. The Survey of Business Owners shows that they are also having a more dramatic impact on our economy than ever before.

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To access more data on women-owned businesses, visit our website:

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