by Maggie Frelang
The number of women-owned firms continues to rise at rates exceeding the national average, according to the third annual American Express State of Woman-Owned Businesses in the United States.
This year the report takes a new look at the growth of firms owned by women of color, and the statistics are more than impressive. As of 2013, the report estimated that there are over 8.6 million women-owned businesses in the United States, generating over $1.3 trillion in revenues and employing nearly 7.8 million people.
The rate of growth in the number of all women-owned enterprises over the past 16 years remains higher than the national average. Between 1997 and 2013, the number of women-owned firms is growing at 1.5 times the national average. Woman owed firms now comprise 29 percent of all enterprises and employ 6 percent of the countries workforce and contribute about 4 percent of business revenues.
In comparison to the statistics as a whole, the report finds that since 1997 the growth in the number of firms owned by women of color has grown exponentially. Comprising just 17 percent 16 years ago, firms owned by women of color now account for 31 percent of women-owned firms in the U.S. But the numbers present a mixed story according to Forbes.
The report find women-owned firms are exceeding overall sector growth in eight of the 13 most populous industries. The states with the fastest growth are the District of Columbia, North Dakota, Nevada, Wyoming and Georgia.
Women tend to own more businesses in health care, social assistance, educational services, administrative support and waste management. However, they are way less likely to own companies in the construction, transportation, finance and insurance sectors. Overall, however, women owners make up nearly 30% of owners in other industries.
Since the recession, job growth has come from two main sources, publicly traded big companies and privately-owned women's enterprises. Calling them the "Unsung Heroines" of the small business sector, the report notes that we need "to better understand their growth journey, address their growth challenges, and help even more women- owned businesses to scale new heights of business accomplishment."