New Report Finds Growth of Women Business Owners Outpaces the Market

Women-owned businesses continue to fuel the economy, representing 39.1% of all businesses – over 14 million – employing 12.2 million workers, and generating $2.7 trillion in revenue. According to the 2024 Wells Fargo Impact of Women-Owned Business Report, in partnership with Ventureneer, CoreWoman, and Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), the number of women-owned businesses between 2019 and 2023 increased at nearly double the rate of those owned by men; and from 2022 to 2023, the rate of growth increased to 4.5 times.

Whether it was during COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020 or supply chain disruptions throughout the pandemic, women business owners are driving economic growth:

  • During the onset of the pandemic in 2020, despite business closures, women launched more businesses than they closed, while the number of men-owned businesses declined. Women-owned businesses also grew their workforces and increased their revenue while men’s numbers shrank.
  • From 2019 to 2023, women-owned businesses’ growth rate outpaced the rate of men’s 94.3% for number of firms, 252.8% for employment, and 82.0% for revenue.
  • During the pandemic, women-owned businesses added 1.4 million jobs and $579.6 billion in revenue to the economy.
  • Nearly half a million women-owned businesses with revenues between $250,000 and $999,999 grew their aggregate revenues by about 30%, illustrating their ambition, grit, and readiness to cross the $1 million revenue threshold.

“The impact that women-owned businesses make on the economy is undeniable. Even more impressive is that growth in women entrepreneurship – whether it was their workforce or revenue – grew during an extremely difficult time,” said Wells Fargo Women’s Segment Lead for Small Business, Val Jones. “From the trillions in revenue they contribute to the economy to the millions in jobs, women-owned businesses are coming out of the pandemic stronger than they went into the pandemic and many are thriving. It’s a testament to their resiliency and the breadth and depth of support they’ve received from government entities, banks, corporations, and philanthropic organizations that must be sustained.”

Also, during the COVID-19 pandemic and the transition to the post-pandemic period, Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino women-owned businesses increased at a much higher rate than all women-owned businesses. Between 2019 and 2023, Black/African American women-owned businesses saw average revenues increase 32.7% and Hispanic/Latino women-owned businesses 17.1% compared to all women-owned businesses’ 12.1% rise.

Further, women-owned businesses with 50 or more employees account for nearly half of women-owned businesses’ employment and revenues. Currently, women-owned businesses with 50 or more employees average $31.8 million in revenue generating $1.3 trillion in aggregate revenue. If they achieved the average revenue of men-owned businesses with 50 or more employees, they would add $1.2 trillion in revenue to the U.S. economy.

“The surge in growth rates of women-owned firms with more than 50 employees proves their strength and adaptability during and post the pandemic era,” said Wells Fargo Women’s Segment Lead for Commercial Banking, Judith Goldkrand. “To sustain the growth and close the gaps, it’s important that we continue to create opportunities that help these businesses flourish, including removing barriers to capital, providing technical assistance, and offering support with business certification.”

Industry trends

More than a decade ago, women-owned businesses were concentrated in just three industries. Now, half of all women-owned businesses (50%) are concentrated in these four industries:

  • Other services (hair and nail salons, pet care, laundries, and dry cleaners): In 2023, women owned 2,267,000 other services companies, accounting for 16.2% of all women-owned businesses.
  • Professional, scientific, and technical services (legal, bookkeeping, and consulting businesses): In 2023, women owned 2,017,000 businesses in this category, accounting for 14.4% of all women-owned businesses.
  • Administrative, support and waste management, and remediation services (office administration, staffing agencies, and security and surveillance services): In 2023, women owned 1,671,000 businesses of this type, accounting for 11.9% of all women-owned businesses.
  • Healthcare and social assistance (child day care and homecare providers, mental health practitioners, and physicians): In 2023, women owned 1,588,000 healthcare and social assistance companies, accounting for 11.3% of all women-owned businesses.

While these industries have the most women-owned businesses, between 2019 and 2023, the sectors that saw the most significant growth (50%) were in finance, insurance firms, real estate, transportation, and the warehouse industry.

Women-owned businesses show growth across the country

The impact of women-owned businesses diverges significantly across the U.S., influenced by varying economic conditions and programs that support their advancement. The report details how their growth plays out across the country, ranking the top and bottom states and Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) between 2019 and 2023. The states with the highest economic clout for women-owned businesses had strong economies during the pandemic with supportive environments for women-owned businesses:

  1. New York
  2. North Carolina
  3. Georgia
  4. Florida
  5. California

The top five MSAs had strong economies with a mix of industries, a strong job market, and entrepreneurial cultures in which there was access to capital, government contracting opportunities, training, mentorship, and networking opportunities:

  1. Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach – Florida
  2. Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington – Texas
  3. Boston, Cambridge, Newton – Massachusetts, New Hampshire
  4. Los Angeles, Long Beach, Anaheim – California
  5. Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale – Arizona

Women-owned businesses could make a greater impact

While women business owners represent 39.1% of U.S. firms, they only account for 9.2% of the workforce and 5.8% of revenue. Closing the gap in average revenues for those ethnically or racially diverse has the potential to generate $667 billion in additional revenue, while closing the gap in average revenues between women- and men-owned businesses has the potential of generating $7.9 trillion in additional revenue to the nation’s economy.

“It’s incredible to see how women are strengthening the post-COVID economy, but their impact can be even greater with additional support, tailored to the needs of specific demographic segments,” said President and CEO of Women Impacting Public Policy, Angela Dingle. “While we’ve seen new mentorship and networking programs emerge, specialized grants, and other services to help support the growth of women-owned businesses, we must continue to do more. By working together, we can create an environment where women can make an even greater impact on the economy and for themselves.”

Explore the 2024 Wells Fargo Impact of Women-Owned Business Report here.

About the Wells Fargo Impact of Women-Owned Business report

The Wells Fargo Impact of Women-Owned Business report – an inaugural report – chronicles the impact of COVID-19 on U.S. businesses and how it opened opportunities for women. It highlights the growth of women-owned businesses from 2019 to 2023, especially those owned by women of color, and explores the intersection of gender with race, business size, industry, and geography. The report was done in collaboration with Ventureneer, CoreWoman, and Women Impacting Public Policy.

Several demographic backgrounders were also created in alignment with the Wells Fargo Impact of Women-Owned Business report:

Methodology

Projected numbers for employer and non-employer firms are based on the U.S. Census Bureau data.

  • Employer firm numbers are based on Annual Business Survey (ABS) and Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs (ASE) data.
  • Non-employer firm numbers use the Non-employer Statistics by Demographics series (NES-D) data, which is sourced from administrative records.

Projections rely on multiple statistical models and are adjusted using the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and level of consumption data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), as well as data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Current Population Survey (CPS).

About Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a leading financial services company that has approximately $1.9 trillion in assets, proudly serves one in three U.S. households and more than 10% of small businesses in the U.S., and is a leading middle market banking provider in the U.S. We provide a diversified set of banking, investment and mortgage products and services, as well as consumer and commercial finance, through our four reportable operating segments: Consumer Banking and Lending, Commercial Banking, Corporate and Investment Banking, and Wealth & Investment Management. Wells Fargo ranked No. 47 on Fortune’s 2023 rankings of America’s largest corporations. In the communities we serve, the company focuses its social impact on building a sustainable, inclusive future for all by supporting housing affordability, small business growth, financial health, and a low-carbon economy. 

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