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Impact of Women-Owned Businesses

The Economic Impact of Women-Owned Businesses In the United States

Center for Women’s Business Research for Walmart, the National Women’s Business Council

First published October 2009

For the first time, the Center for Women’s Business Research has utilized a methodology to measure the economic impact of the estimated 8 million U.S. businesses currently majority women-owned. Today, women-owned firms have an economic impact of $3 trillion annually that translates into the creation and/or maintenance of more than 23 million jobs – 16 percent of all U.S. jobs! These jobs not only sustain the individual worker but contribute to the economic security of their families, the economic vitality of their communities and the nation.

If U.S.-based women-owned businesses were their own country, they would have the 5th largest GDP in the world, trailing closely behind Germany, and ahead of countries including France, United Kingdom, and Italy.

The significance of the total amount of economic impact – $2.8 trillion – once again proves that women-owned firms are not a small, niche market but are a major contributor and player in the overall economy. It also reveals the magnitude of importance that small business plays in the overall economy. According to SBA’s Office of Advocacy, 99.7 percent of all employer firms are classified as “small businesses (less than 500 employees);” small businesses employ 51% of all people; have generated nearly two-thirds (64%) of net new jobs over the past decade and a half, and produce 13 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms.

From 1997-2002, women-owned firms were growing at twice the rate of all other groups and while the current economic woes have dampened business growth for all segments, women continue to keep pace. However, in most public conversations and in most people’s minds, the important player in the economy is the large corporations – which only account for .03 percent of all firms and employ fewer people than small businesses do in total. This research illuminates the economicreality and calls for changing the conversation at a policy level and in the public sphere. 

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