The number of women-owned businesses is growing more than twice as quickly as the national start-up average, according to a new report by the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy.
While the number of all U.S. businesses increased 7% between 1997 and 2002, the number of women-owned firms grew by 19.8%.
In 2002, women owned 6.5 million businesses, accounting for 28.2% of all U.S. non-farm firms and 4.2% of the nation's total receipts.
According to the report, women-owned companies hail from a range of sectors, including wholesale and retail trade (17%), health care and social assistance (16%), and professional, scientific, and technical service (14%).
In 2002, women-owned firms employed 7.1 million workers, accounting for 6.5% of total U.S. employment, with an annual payroll of $173.7 billion. Over the period studied, women-owned firms increased employment by 70,000.
However, the majority of women-owned firms were small businesses -- 86% were sole proprietorships, and almost 80% had annual receipts totaling less than $50,000.