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Thu., March 22, 2012, 11:26 a.m.

State of women-owned businesses: some upsides, some downsides

A recent overview of women in the workplace shows that Seattle is ranked 20th in the nation in growth of women-owned businesses over the past 15 years. Washington state was ranked 35th out of all states in the growth of number of women-owned businesses. 

But while this is interesting stuff, here is a key statistical caveat, presented by the group that collected the data (a foundation created by American Express):
Data from the past three censuses – 1997, 2002, and 2007 – were collated, analyzed and extrapolated forward to 2012, factoring in relative changes in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) not only nationally but also at industry and state levels. State-level GDP changes over the period of analysis are applied to our estimates of change at the metropolitan level.
So to be accurate, this isn't up-to-date information, but it's useful in a limited way. To see an overview of the full report, it's here.
The data was analyzed and used to create three rankings: growth in number of women-owned firms, growth in those firms' revenue, and growth in employment. Seattle was 20th out of 25 major cities on number of new women-owned businesses. But when all three categories were measured, it did better.
The top 10 cities when combining all three rankings into overall ranking are:
Washington, D.C.
San Antonio
Tampa/St. Petersburg
(tie) Seattle and Portland 
The other big-picture piece of information reported by American Express is:  "Nationally, the number of women-owned businesses has increased by 54 percent since 1997."
And: "Despite the fact that women-owned firms continue to grow at rates exceeding all but the largest U.S. corporations and account for 29 percent of all enterprises, women-owned firms employ 6 percent of the country’s workforce and contribute just under 4 percent of business revenues. Even when comparing the contributions of women-owned firms only to privately held businesses, women contribute just 14 percent of employment and 11 percent of revenues."

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Tom Sowa
Tom Sowa covers technology, retail and economic development and writes the Office Hours blog.