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Women-Owned Businesses Gain Strength

Trends: California has the most such firms--1.2 million--as economic clout of those companies here and across U.S. rises, study says.


California means business for the state's 1.2 million women-owned businesses, which outnumber, outsell and out-employ their counterparts in any other state.

Those are just some of the findings in a national report to be released today which shows that women-owned businesses here and nationwide continue to increase their economic clout.

The latest figures from the National Foundation for Women Business Owners estimate there are now 9.1 million women-owned firms nationwide representing nearly one in four U.S. businesses. That's a 103% increase from 1987, but sales and employment are growing at an even faster clip, suggesting that these firms are more than just one-woman shows.

NFWBO analysis reveals that women-owned firms now generate more than $3.6 trillion in annual sales, up 436% from 1987. They also employ 27.5 million workers, up 320% over the same period.

"These firms are more than kitchen table operations," said Bruce Rosenthal, spokesman for Silver Spring, Md.-based NFWBO, the research arm of the National Assn. of Women Business Owners. "They are becoming larger and more substantial."

The nation's largest state, California also boasts the greatest number of women-owned businesses. Its 1.2 million women-owned enterprises represent 39% of all companies in the state, employ 3.8 million people and generate $549 billion in annual sales, according to the NFWBO data.

That's well ahead of runner-up New York, which has about 600,000 women-owned businesses with $304 billion in sales and 1.9 million workers, according to Rosenthal.

In California, like the nation as a whole, more than two-thirds of all women-owned firms are in services or retail. But their numbers are multiplying the fastest in nontraditional industries such as the building and wholesale trades. Construction is now the fastest-growing field for women-owned business in the Golden State. NFWBO estimates there are currently 40,900 women-owned construction firms in California, up 73.3% since 1992.

NFWBO derived its 1999 estimates by analyzing U.S. Census Bureau data from 1992 and 1987, then projecting those trends forward. For more information on the report, contact NFWBO at (301) 495-4975 or

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