New data from the Census Bureau has found that women own one-third of all U.S. businesses, employing 26 percent of the nation’s work force. Sales from the 7.95 million women-owned businesses jumped 236 percent since 1987, and employment in those businesses rose to 18.5 million workers from only 6.6 million in 1987. According to the National Foundation for Women Business Owners, the number of women-owned companies increased 78 percent in the last nine years while growth among U.S. firms was only 47 percent. The state with the largest number of women-owned businesses was California, and Nevada had the fastest rate of growth. Although the largest share of women-owned companies was in the service sector, growth was “explosive” in nontraditional industries such as construction.
A Washington Post article earlier this month indicated that in the greater Washington, D.C. area, women-owned businesses accounted for 39 percent of businesses in the region in 1992. Specialists attribute the higher numbers to the presence of the federal government and credit affirmative action programs for the overall increasing numbers.