Women have made considerable progress in increasing their representation among business owners in recent years. The number of women-owned businesses increased in almost every industry between 2002 and 2012, at rates higher than those of men-owned businesses. This growth contributed to an overall increase in the share of businesses that were women-owned, and was largely driven by women of color.

Drawing on the most recent publicly available data, from 2012, this briefing paper reviews trends in business ownership since 1997, analyzes the demographic characteristics of business owners by race, ethnicity and gender, highlights differences in women’s business ownership by state, and provides data on gender differences in business sector, revenue, and access to finance.

The Annual Business Survey (ABS) is a new survey that replaces the five-year Survey of Business Owners (SBO) for employer businesses. The data was set to be released December of 2019, but has not been published to date.