More women-owned Iowa businesses, but employment falls

Iowa ranks 49th in women-owned business growth

A new report shows Iowa has more women-owned businesses than it did in 1997. But employment and sales have fallen over the 16-year period.

Iowa has an estimated 71,000 companies owned by women — up 23.4 percent from 57,527 women-owned businesses in 1997, according to a report commissioned by American Express OPEN. The study analyzed 1997, 2002 and 2007 data from the U.S. Census Bureau's quinquennial business census.

Employment at women-owned companies in Iowa fell 22.5 percent, from 71,724 in 1997 to an estimated 55,600 this year. Sales slid 3.9 percent at the same women-owned businesses from $8.1 million in 1997 to an estimated $7.8 million this year.

Iowa ranks 49th in terms of the growth of women-owned businesses, 51st with regard to growth in annual revenue and 50th in terms of growth of employment between 1997 and 2013. The study was unable to determine the number of Iowa businesses owned by women of color.

Nationally, the number of women-owned companies in the 50 states and District of Columbia has increased 59.1 percent since 5.4 million in 1997, to an estimated 8.6 million this year. Employment has risen 9.6 percent to an estimated 7.8 million this year from 7.1 million in 1997.

Sales have grown 63.1 percent to an estimated $1.3 billion this year from $818.7 billion in 1997.

The American Express OPEN analysis of census data found the growth in the number, revenues and employment of women-owned businesses over the past 16 years exceeded the growth rates of all but the very largest, publicly traded corporations in the country.

From 2007 to 2013, the net increase of 5.3 million jobs nationwide has come almost entirely from large public companies and businesses owned by women. During the same period, employment fell at men-owned businesses and firms owned equally by men and women.

In 1997, there were 929,445 companies owned by women of color, accounting for one in six or 17 percent of women-owned businesses. That number has soared to an estimated 2.7 million as of 2013, and now comprises one in three or 31 percent of women-owned businesses.

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