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Get the Facts on Women Business Owners

A woman business owner speaks with a customer.

The impact of women-owned businesses on the U.S. economy is large and continues to grow, but just how large is it? For instance, how many women-owned businesses are there in the United States? How much do those businesses make? What industries are those businesses in?

Answers to these questions and more are in a new report from the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, “Women’s Business Ownership: Data from the 2012 Survey of Business Owners.” SBA’s Office of Advocacy supports small business owners and conducts research to understand and advocate for them. Their new report evaluates the state of women-owned businesses using the Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners, or SBO.

The data from the SBO illustrate the large impact of women entrepreneurs:

  • Women-owned businesses employ over 8.4 million workers and generate $264 billion in payroll.
  • Almost all (99.9%) of women-owned businesses are considered small businesses (fewer than 500 employees).
  • 36 percent of all businesses are women-owned, and they account for 12 percent of all sales and 15 percent of employment.
  • An additional 2.5 million businesses are owned equally by women and men. These businesses account for an added $189 billion in payroll for 6.5 million workers.
  • As majority and joint business owners, women entrepreneurs generate $2.5 trillion in sales.

Women-owned businesses appear in every industry group, but are more prevalent in the service sector. For example, in the child day care industry, women own more than 660,000 businesses − 89 percent of the industry. Child daycare is one of 36 industries with more women-owned businesses than male-owned. 

Chart showing the ownership of industries by gender

The interactive version of this graph shows the number of male- and female-owned businesses in each of these 247 industries.

Also noteworthy is that minority communities have higher shares of women-owned businesses. For example, 59 percent of Black/African-American businesses and 44 percent of Hispanic businesses are owned by women, versus 32 percent of non-Hispanic white businesses.

Chart showing percent of women business owners by demographic

The SBO also goes into depth on business characteristics such as firm age, size and financing, and it shows key differences between men- and women-owned businesses. Check out the Office of Advocacy’s full report for in-depth analysis of the data, plus additional interactive graphics.

Women-owned businesses are a key to our nation’s overall economic success, and their importance is growing. With that in mind, the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau and the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy will continue working hard to make sure these businesses and their owners have the support and protections they deserve.

Michael J. McManus is a regulatory economist with the SBA Office of Advocacy. You can reach him at


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NON MINORITY is a minority!!!! What happened to white/ Caucasian?? IF we are not worth mentioning can we start being 'viewed as a minority? It would be nice to be considered again..WOULD BE GREAT TO HIRED FOR COUNTING AS A MINORITY IN MY BIRTH COUNTRY WHERE MY HERITAGE IS and FAMILY HAS LEGALLY LIVED FOR MANY GENERATIONS.