October marks a very important milestone for women and for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). It is National Women’s Small Business Month and the 26th anniversary of the signing of the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988 (H.R. 5050), an effort to eliminate discriminatory lending practices and to establish the Women’s Business Center Program and the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC).
Today, the NWBC advises the White House, Congress and the Small Business Association on issues relevant to women business owners — with a critical focus on how to alleviate the obstacles faced by both women business owners and women trying to start their own businesses which include access to capital and opening new markets.
To be sure, women are helping to drive economic growth and create jobs all across the country.
According to the 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report commissioned by American Express OPEN and conducted by Womenable, an estimated 9.1 million women-owned enterprises employ nearly 7.9 million workers and generate more than $1.4 trillion in revenues in the United States.
Between 1997 and 2014, the number of women-owned firms grew at 1½ times the national average, and revenue and employment growth among women-owned firms tops that of all other firms-except the largest, publicly-traded corporations.
On average between 1997 and 2014, there has been a net increase of 591 women-owned firms each day — including 714 per day in the years (2002–07) leading up to the recession, 506 per day over the past seven years (2007–14), and fully 1,288 per day over the past year. Women-owned firms now account for 30 percent of all enterprises, and are growing faster in number and employment than most other firms.
For the last few years, Florida has ranked fourth among all 50 states in the number of women-owned businesses who call it home. This year, that number topped out at 596,400. Moreover, that number has grown 76.5 percent since 1997.
Finally, women-owned firms continue to diversify into all industries. The industries with the highest concentration of women-owned firms are health care and social assistance (53 percent of firms in this sector are women-owned, compared to a 30 percent share overall), educational services (45 percent), other services (42 percent), and administrative support and waste management services (37 percent). The industries with the lowest concentration of women-owned firms — in industries contributing 2 percent or more of the business population — are construction, where just 7 percent of firms are women-owned, transportation and warehousing (11 percent), wholesale trade (19 percent) and finance and insurance (20 percent). All other industries are close to the 30 percent share in all industries, again illustrating that women-owned firms are staking a claim in all sectors of the U.S. economy.