At least, that's the opinion of American Express ( AXP) Open, from its State of Women-Owned Businesses Report. The report says there about 8.6 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., producing $1.3 in revenues and employing 7.8 million Americans. "The growth in the number, revenues and employment of women-owned firms over the past 16 years exceeds the growth rates of all but the very largest, publicly traded corporations in the country," the report says. In fact, women-owned businesses trail only publicly traded companies as the fastest-growing job engines in the U.S. in 2013. Amex says that women-owned businesses added 175,000 net jobs across the U.S. since 2007, compared with a net decline of 569,000 jobs at privately held U.S. companies in the same period. Since 1997, women-owned firms rose by 59%, too, with the fastest growth coming from minority-owned businesses with women at the helm. "The report underlines the important role women-owned firms have played throughout the economic recovery," says Susan Sobbott, president of American Express Open. " Women-owned businesses have been net job creators since 2007, a distinction shared by only large, publicly traded companies." Where are the best opportunities for job-seekers? Amex Open says the fastest-growing U.S. women-owned companies are education services, up 113% since 2002; waste services firms (up 58%); health care (up 45%); and transportation and warehouse-related firms (up 40%) -- all in the same period.
The best states to look for women-owned businesses skew toward the U.S. South, with the most welcoming states for female entrepreneurs including Georgia, which is up 112% since 1997, followed by Texas (93%), North Carolina (91%) and Louisiana (94%). San Antonio, Texas; Portland, Ore.; and Houston, Texas, are at the top of the list of cities with the fastest-growing rates of women-owned businesses. To find a women-owned company in your area, contact the Women's Business Enterprise National Council or ask your local Chamber of Commerce Office for help.