The American Express OPEN State of Women-Owned Businesses Report

Earlier this spring, American Express OPEN released its State of Women-Owned Business Report which examined the status of women-owned businesses in the United States from 1997 through 2011. While the survey only examined businesses with 51 percent female ownership (and therefore does not represent all WPO members), it does shed light on the impressive progress of female leadership in business over the past 15 years.

The report found that as of 2011, there were 8.1 million women-owned firms in the United States which generated nearly $1.3 trillion and employed 7.7 million people. The number of women-owned firms increased by 50 percent from 1997 to 2011 compared to the national average growth rate of 34 percent. Interestingly, men-owned firms only grew by 25 percent during the same period. In 2011, there were nearly 150,000 women-owned businesses which surpassed the million dollar mark marking up 1.8 percent or all women-owned businesses.

A large number of WPO members own 50 percent of their companies, giving their businesses the designation of “equally owned firms.” Together, there were 13.1 million women-owned and equally owned firms at the start of 2012, making up 46% of all U.S. firms and representing 13 percent of total U.S. employment.

Summary of Findings:

  • Women-Owned Firms as of 2011
    • Number of firms: 8.1 million
    • Revenues: $1.3 trillion
    • Employment: 7.7 million
  • Women-Owned Firms and Equally Owned Firms:
    • Number of firms: 13.1 million
    • Revenue: $2.6 trillion
  • From 1997 to 2011, the number of women-owned firms increased by 50% (1.5 times the national average of 34%)
    • Men-owned firms grew by only 25%
  • The fastest growth in the number of women owned firms over the past 8 years has taken place in:
    • Education services (54%)
    • Administrative and waste services (47%)
    • Construction (41%)
  • Industries with the highest concentration of women-owned businesses
    • Healthcare and social assistance (52%)
    • Education services (46%)
    • Administrative and waste services (37%)
  • Fastest growth states since 1997
    • Georgia (97.5%)
    • Nevada (87.6%)
    • Mississippi (76.7%)
    • Florida (73.3%)
    • North Carolina (68.8%)
  • Lowest states
    • Alaska (8.8%)
    • West Virginia (17.8%)
    • Iowa (20.1%)
    • Indiana (23.7%)
    • Vermont (26.2%)
  • The million $ mark
    • Percent of women-owned businesses in 1997: 1.8%
    • Percent of women-owned businesses in 2011: 1.8%
    • Nearly 150,000 women-owned businesses passed the million dollar mark as of 2011
  • Firms over $1 million in revenue exceed the national growth average
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