According to the Census Bureau's 1997 Survey of Women-Owned Business Enterprises, the number of women-owned businesses grew 16% between 1992 and 1997 (the latest year for which data are available) compared to 6% for all businesses. Employment growth at women-owned firms was equally as impressive. The number of people employed by women-owned firms grew 28% over the same period, which is more than triple the rate for all other firms. And payroll at women-owned firms grew at almost twice the rate for all firms, 46% compared to 25%. All told, the Census found that women-owned companies made up 26% of the nation's 20.8 million nonfarm businesses, and 4.4% of the $18.6 trillion in receipts for all businesses.
Of course, women still have some catching up to do. About 70% of women-owned businesses had less than $25,000 in receipts, vs. 53% of all firms. And only 2% of women-owned firms had more than $1 million in receipts, compared with 5% for all businesses. That's probably because women-owned businesses tend to be smaller than other businesses. In fact, 85% of women-owned firms are sole proprietorships, according to the Census. Only about 7,400 companies had 100 or more employees.
According to the Census, one-third of women-owned companies are based in four states -- California, New York, Texas, and Florida. Yet woman entrepreneurs also post a strong showing in the District of Columbia, where they account for 31% of all businesses, and New Mexico, where they make up 29% of the state's total number of companies. By Joan Raymond