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Women-Owned Companies Are Fastest Growers in U.S., Report Says


Women-owned businesses now account for one in three U.S. firms and posted an estimated $3.1 trillion in sales in 1997.

Those are among the findings in the latest study of women-owned businesses just released by the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy.

The "Women in Business" report updates now familiar trends showing women-owned businesses to be one of the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. economy. Adjusting for inflation, the report found that sales at women-owned firms have increased 209% during the last decade alone.

"The increase in revenue is really dramatic," said Alicia Robb, an economist with the SBA's Office of Advocacy. "Women-owned businesses are growing faster [than all businesses] in nearly every industry."

Culled from Census Bureau data, the SBA report estimates there were 8.5 million women-owned businesses operating in the U.S. in 1997, an 89% increase since 1987. That number currently equates to about a third of all businesses, with women's share expected to inch up to 35% by the turn of the century.

Other findings include:

* Women-owned firms employed 23.7 million people in 1997, a 262% increase from 1987.

* About 16.5% of women-owned businesses have employees, compared with about 18% of all businesses. The number of women-owned businesses with employees grew by 46% between 1987 and 1997.

* More than 70% of women-owned businesses are concentrated in services and retail trade.

* More than 60% of women-owned businesses got their start as home-based operations.

* Self-employment among women will increase 77% between 1983 and 2005, compared with 6% for men.

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