New SBO Data Shows More Women Engaging in Entrepreneurship

Women make great entrepreneurs. The research confirms this, and our recent Policy Digest brings it to life. Now, the contribution of women in entrepreneurship is making a mark on the U.S. economy.

Since 2007, the share of women-owned businesses in the United States has increased in an economy where growth of total number of U.S. firms has remained relatively slow—2 percent between 2007 and 2012.

Every 5 years, the U.S. Census Bureau releases data on Small Business Owners (SBO). The 2012 SBO data was recently released and gave us new information about women-owned businesses.

Although women did not make up the majority of overall receipts[1] (4.8 percent) or employer firms (19.4 percent) between 2007 and 2012, women have shown an increase for entering business ownership.

Between 2007 and 2012, the number of women-owned firms grew 27 percent, compared to the total number of U.S. firms, which grew a mere two percent. In 2007, women-owned firms made up 29 percent of U.S. firms overall in contrast to 36 percent in 2012.

This change was highlighted in a Wall Street Journal article, which addresses some of the main findings from the new SBO data to show the full picture of what the data means for trends in women’s entrepreneurship. In addition, the Census Bureau emphasizes some of the key statistics from this new SBO data in Fact Sheets that examine particular women demographics, including women by race and veteran status.

The newly released data shows that, overall, new business creation is not recovering as quickly as hoped. However, it is encouraging that, more than ever, women are engaging in entrepreneurship.

With climbs like this, it’s easy to feel optimistic about growing entrepreneurial opportunities for women. However, policymakers and practitioners need to continue to find conduits for women to contribute to overall receipts and employees measures within their businesses. Without also increasing economic impact through sales and hiring, women are not producing at their full capacity and denying potential contributions for the U.S. economy. 

We can look forward to more SBO data on business characteristics and women’s small business-ownership, which is expected to be released in December 2015.



[1] Census Bureau SBO definition of Receipts: Includes the total sales, shipments, receipts, revenue, or business done by domestic establishments (excludes foreign subsidiaries) within the scope of the Survey of Business Owners.

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