Updated March 26 at 6:25pm
small business

For R.I. women-owned firms, job growth worst in nation


PROVIDENCE – While Rhode Island’s women-owned businesses generated more than $3.5 billion in sales from 2012 to 2013, employment in these local firms fell at the fastest rate in the country, according to the State of Women-Owned Businesses Report from American Express OPEN.

The report was prepped for American Express by Womenable, an Empire, Mich.-based for-profit research, policy and a women-owned business advocacy organization.

The state added around 300 women-owned businesses in 2012, rising to an estimated 28,200. Since 1997, the number of these firms grew by 41.8 percent, while their overall revenue rose from $2.6 to $3.5 billion. These firms employed 20,700 workers throughout Rhode Island, about a 300 person 2012 to 2013 year-over-year drop.

Employment has fallen nearly 8,000, or 27.8 percent, over the 16-year record, the largest percent decrease in the United States, according to the report.

Nationally, the number of women-owned businesses has grown by nearly 3.2 million firms in the last 16 years, while employing nearly 7.8 million people. In terms of firms added in the tri-state area since 1997, Rhode Island, at 41.8 percent growth, outpaced Massachusetts (39.2 percent) and Connecticut (35.1 percent).

However, the state fell to the very bottom in terms of employees added and “Economic Clout” (an average of the number, revenue and employment growth data since 1997) of its women-owned enterprises, putting the Ocean State in the 48 spot nationally, before only Vermont, Ohio and Iowa.

State metro areas that were most women-business friendly were Houston and San Antonio; Portland, Riverside, Calif.; and the District of Columbia, which outpaced other commercial hubs in average growth in number, employment and revenue of women-owned enterprises.

Since 1997, the states with the fastest growth in the number of women-owned businesses were: Georgia (112 percent), Texas (93 percent), North Carolina (91 percent), Louisiana (94 percent) and Nevada (84 percent).

Women-owned firms in the U.S. are concentrated more heavily in several industrial sectors, including health care and social assistance, educational, administrative support and waste management services.

The lowest industrial concentrations of women-owned business were construction, transportation, warehousing, finance and insurance.

To view the full State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, visit: openforum.com.


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