Despite Smaller Size, Women-Owned Businesses Have a Significant Economic Impact

Release Date: 
Wednesday, May 31, 2017 - 4:00pm
Release Number: 
17-09 ADV
Jason Dore

Despite Smaller Size, Women-Owned Businesses Have a Significant Economic Impact

       WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new issue brief from the SBA Office of Advocacy shows the major economic contribution of women-owned businesses, in spite of their average smaller size when compared to male-owned firms. The report, "Women’s Business Ownership: Data from the 2012 Survey of Business Owners," uses the most recent Census Bureau data to create a highly detailed portrait of this group, including their role in minority business communities.

Acting Chief Counsel for Advocacy Major Clark III said, “Women entrepreneurs are an economic powerhouse. Through almost 10 million businesses, they employ over 8 million workers providing $264 billion in payroll. Further research will help show the extent to which their smaller size is the result of owners’ business goals or obstacles to those goals.”

Advocacy’s new research takes a closer look at important factors regarding the longstanding differences between male- and women-owned firms’ sales and employment. Among other items, the report evaluates the industry distribution and business characteristics, like age and financing, of women-owned businesses. Featuring interactive charts, users can now easily understand the gender composition and performance of women-owned businesses in hundreds of industries.

Additional findings from the report include:

  • The 9.9 million businesses that are majority-owned by women contribute $1.4 trillion in sales to the economy.
  • Thirty-six percent of all businesses are women-owned, accounting for 12% of all business sales and 15% of employment.
  • Industries with the most women-owned employer firms range from restaurants to physicians and management consulting.
  • Women-owned businesses without employees tend to be in the service industries, such as child day care and personal care.
  • On average, women-owned businesses are smaller than their male-owned counterparts. Their average sales are lower, they are less likely to be employers, and they have fewer employees than male-owned businesses.
  • Women own a larger share of businesses in every minority group compared to their overall share of businesses (36%). Almost 60% of Black/African American-owned businesses and 44% of Hispanic-owned businesses are women-owned.

The new issue brief is available on the Office of Advocacy’s website at (number 13) or


The Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is an independent voice for small business within the federal government. The presidentially appointed and Senate confirmed Chief Counsel for Advocacy advances the views, concerns and interests of small business before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, federal courts and policymakers. Regional advocates and an office in Washington, D.C., support the Chief Counsel’s efforts. For more information, visit, call (202) 205-6533 or get updates on Twitter (@AdvocacySBA) or Facebook at