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The American Express Co. OPEN State of Women-Owned Businesses Report is out, and there is some very good news for female entrepreneurs.
The survey, which utilizes data collected every five years by the U.S. Census Bureau, reports that there are 8.1 million women-owned businesses in the United States--up 50% from its start date in 1997.
Women-owned businesses also outperformed their male counterparts in all fields.
These numbers account for 29% of all companies, and a growth rate 1 1/2 times the national average, according to the Dayton Business Journal. Most of this growth has occurred in the health care and education industries.
However, women-owned businesses still have room for improvement.
The press release indicates that in firms employing 100 or fewer persons, women-owned businesses are keeping pace in revenue and employment growth, but beyond that begin to lag. Their overall averages also lag behind the national averages in employment and revenue.
There's no indication of what has driven growth over the last 14 years, especially in such a diverse group of industries. However, it's likely that, along with the growth of the Internet and home-based entrepreneurship, the push to bring women into male-dominated industries has opened opportunities for women that didn't previously exist.
At the moment, there is no official data on just how the recession has impacted these numbers (the latest data is from 2007). But one could expect them to continue to grow, as unemployment has increased entrepreneurship nationwide, and the Small Business Administration recently launched its women-owned business grant initiative.