by Valorie H. Rice
Senior Specialist, Business Information
Businesses owned by women have experienced substantial growth in recent years. They also play a dynamic role in nearly every industry sector. Here are some interesting facts concerning women-owned businesses in Arizona and the U.S. from the Survey of Business Owners. This survey is produced by the U.S. Census Bureau every five years, the most recent being for 2012 (released December 2015).
The total number of businesses in Arizona owned by women in 2012 was 182,425, representing 36.5% of businesses in the state. This was more than the percentage nationally of 35.8%. Georgia, with 40.5%, was the state with the largest percentage, while at 29.2%, South Dakota had the smallest. California was the state with the largest number of women-owned businesses in 2012 (Table 1).
A large majority of women-owned businesses in Arizona were self-employed individuals, only 10.4% had paid employees. Of those that did have paid employees, over half were small enterprises with less than five workers. This held true for the nation as well.
Female headed firms spanned nearly every industry in 2012. The top industries for female-owned businesses were the same for both the U.S. and Arizona. Other services (which includes hair salons and repair shops) and the health care and social assistance sector were the two industries with the highest percentage of female-owned businesses. Not only were these two industries the most highly represented among female-owned firms, but firms in these two industries were also more likely to be headed by women when compared with all firms. The industries least likely to have large numbers of women-owned firms were utilities, management of companies and enterprises (which include holding companies and corporate offices), and mining (Table 2).
Arizona female-owned businesses follow the same general industry mix as those in the U.S., with one notable difference. The industry where Arizona women-owned businesses departed from the norm was real estate. There was far a higher percentage of women-owned real estate businesses in Arizona (10.4%) than in the U.S. (7.2%) overall. In fact, the only state with a higher percentage of women-owned real estate businesses was Nevada at 11.8%. There was a slightly smaller percentage of women-owned businesses in the health care and other services sectors in Arizona compared to the nation.
Growth in the number of women-owned businesses far outpaced total business growth between 2007 and 2012. The change in the total number of all businesses in the U.S. was 2%, while the number of female-owned businesses grew 26.8% in the same time period. This divergence was even greater in Arizona, where overall growth was 1.7% compared to a 32.1% increase in women-owned businesses. Arizona had the tenth highest percent change in the number of women-owned firms over this five year period out of all states. The state with the largest growth was Louisiana while New Hampshire had the least growth.
Women-owned businesses also experienced faster revenue growth over this five-year time period. Revenues for Arizona women-owned firms grew 4.5% between 2007 and 2012 compared to a 0.9% increase in revenues for all firms. Nationally, women-owned firms had an 18.7% increase in revenue, compared to 11.7% overall.
Maricopa County had the largest number of women-owned firms, followed by Pima County. This is not a surprise given the size difference between Maricopa and the other counties in the state. Apache County had the highest percent of total businesses run by women, with 40.6%. Greenlee had the smallest at 13.1%, as well as the smallest number of women-owned businesses (Table 3).
The Census Bureau conducts the Survey of Business Owners in conjunction with the Economic Census every five years (those ending on a 2 or a 7). It is a sample survey that provides information on selected economic and demographic characteristics for businesses and business owners by gender, ethnicity, race and veteran status. Women-owned businesses have a woman owning 51% or more of the equity, interest, or stock of the business. The relative standard of error for several of Arizona’s smallest counties was rather high; therefore caution should be taken when considering the county-level data.