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One in 18 U.S. Women is a Business Owner

Over one in 18 adult women in the United States, 5.7 percent, is a business owner. Alaska boasts the highest rate of female entrepreneurship, with 9.4 percent of the adult women in the state owning businesses. Mississippi is the lowest with only 1 in 25 or 4.0 percent of the women in the state acting as business owners, according to a new analysis from Center for Women's Business Research. The research brief, "Women's Business Ownership by State," is based on analysis of both business and household Census data and draws from the December 2001 report by the Center, "Women-Owned Businesses in 2002: Trends in the U.S. and 50 States."

The variance in the rates of women's business ownership from state to state is consistent with overall trends of business ownership by all adults — those states with the highest rates of overall business ownership were also highest for women's entrepreneurship and those with the lowest rates were lowest for women's entrepreneurship. Rates of business ownership among all adults range from a high of 15.1 percent in Montana to a low of 8.0% in West Virginia. Though men are currently more likely than women to be business owners, (10.4 percent of all adults compared to 5.7 percent of women), female entrepreneurship has been growing at twice the national average since 1997.

"Our research shows that women's entrepreneurship is flourishing throughout the U.S. Nearly 6% of all adult women now own and run businesses and contribute substantially to the nation's economy," said Myra M. Hart, chair, Center for Women's Business Research. "The analysis of this data enables us to compare business participation rates among women and all adults in every state and creates a baseline for measuring changes and progress in the future."

States with the highest rates of business ownership, both among women and overall, are clustered in the Mountain and Northeast regions of the United States. Among women, states with the highest rates of business ownership are: Alaska; Colorado; Montana; Vermont; Wyoming; Oregon; Utah; Idaho; Maine; and New Mexico.

The lowest rates of business ownership are found primarily in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Among women, the states with the lowest rates of business ownership are: Mississippi; Pennsylvania; Alabama; Louisiana; Arkansas; West Virginia; South Carolina; Kentucky; Wisconsin; and Ohio.

The complete research brief, which contains ranking information for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia both alphabetically and by rate of ownership, is available at the Center's Web site,


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