More Firms Are Owned By Women

ONE out of every 4 American workers is employed by a business owned by a woman, according to a report released this week by the National Foundation for Women Business Owners.

Women own more than one-third of all businesses in the United States, the report notes. Today, 7.95 million companies are owned by women, up from 4.48 million in 1987. That 78 percent rise dwarfs the 47 percent rate of increase for all US firms.

As a result, sales have jumped 236 percent, to $2.28 trillion from $681 billion in 1987. Employment shot up to 18.5 million workers - 26 percent of the US work force - from nearly 6.6 million nine years ago.

Julie Weeks, the foundation's research director, attributes the rapid growth partly to the steady increase of working women since World War II.

"After such a long time, women are moving into ownership," she notes, adding that some women start their own businesses when they find "they have advanced as far as they can go."

"Also, you have younger women in business school ... or seeking some other professional degree thinking of entrepreneurship right off the bat," she says. "And some daughters are inheriting businesses from their parents," who in previous generations would pass them on to sons instead.

The report from the Silver Spring, Md., group, "1996 Facts on Women-Owned Businesses," is based on new data from the Census Bureau.

It indicates that the number of companies owned by women is increasing in every state, led by Nevada with a growth rate of 130 percent since 1987. California has the largest number of women-owned businesses, 1.082 million. Texas was second with 552,000; New York, third with 527,000.

The largest share of companies owned by women - 52 percent - are in the service sector, the report says. An additional 19 percent are in retail trade, and 10 percent are in finance, insurance, or real estate.

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