Statistics released yesterday by the US Census Bureau reveal that the number of women and minority-owned businesses grew extensively in the years preceding the recession, reports the Washington Post. According to the new numbers, by 2007 women owned almost one third of American small businesses, and minorities owned one in five. Between 2002 and 2007 the number of businesses owned by African-Americans jumped 60 percent, those owned by Hispanics rose 44 percent, those owned by Asians increased 41 percent, and women-owned business grew 20 percent. Comparatively, there was a 13 percent increase in business owned by whites, and just a 5.5 percent increase in businesses owned by men. Harry C. Alford, president of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, said he was highly encouraged by the results. He told the Washington Post “The growth is phenomenal.” He continued, “When you write your own signature on both sides of the check, you start building wealth. I think America’s getting better.” Inequalities, however, are still prevalent when it comes to American small businesses. White-owned companies still account for 83 percent of all small firms, and women only 7.8 million firms, in contrast to the 13.9 million businesses owned by men. According to the Census Bureau, minority-owned firms with paid employees grossed an average of 1.1 million in 2007, about half of the $2.0 million average for white-owned businesses with employees. Disparities in gross receipts for businesses without employees were also significant, with white business on average earning $13,000 more.