Quick Take: Women Making Strides in Business

The U.S. Census Bureau’s final 2012 Survey of Business Owners reveals positive trends for female entrepreneurs throughout the country.

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(Credit: Bench Accounting, StockSnap)

(Credit: Bench Accounting, StockSnap)

The sun seems to be coming up for female entrepreneurs in America.

Women in the United States are starting up and surviving in our economy more successfully than ever before — even amid tough economic times — according to revised, final statistics released on Dec. 15 by the U.S. Census Bureau for its 2012 Survey of Business Owners (SBO), a comprehensive look at the demographics of the American entrepreneurial landscape that it offers every 5 years.

With the release, the Census Bureau has made available highly granular data for 2012 — soon after a Great Recession that began in December 2007 and officially ended in June 2009 — that the public can examine and parse by state, metro area and even county as well as by gender, race, ethnicity, industry and veteran status.

In line with preliminary findings on women’s business ownership released in August, the agency said there were 9.9 million majority women-owned firms in 2012, up more than 2 million, or 26.8 percent, from five years earlier, when there were 7.8 million. That’s a remarkable growth pace considering the number of majority male-owned firms rose only 6.8 percent during the same period, according the Bureau’s press release.

That expansion led to a significant increase in women’s share of all ventures. In 2012, 35.8 percent of U.S. businesses were female-owned, up from 28.7 in 2007.

The good news didn’t end there, either. The agency’s survey, based on interviews of approximately 1.75 million small businesses nationwide, also showed that firms helmed by female entrepreneurs made $1.4 trillion in 2012, up from $1.2 trillion in 2007 — an 18.7-percent increase — according to researchers involved in the survey.

However, the Bureau’s data also reveal opportunities for growth and improvement, especially in terms of job creation and business size. The SBO showed that a very large proportion — 89.5 percent — of women-owned businesses were solo enterprises with no employees, compared to 80.4 percent for all firms.

What will female entrepreneurship look like in the future? Happily, we will not have to wait five years for another 3-year-old picture to find out. In January, the Bureau announced a public-private partnership with the Kauffman Foundation that will allow for more frequent data releases on the state of small business in the United States. They will be “modernizing and annualizing” the SBO for 2014, 2015 and 2016, giving us all a better picture of the changing demographics of business ownership.

So by and large, the news is good — and the outlook, even better — for women business owners.

Explore the SBO findings here.

Posted: December 17, 2015

The Story ExchangeQuick Take: Women Making Strides in Business