Report shows Grand Rapids has 6th-lowest percentage of female small business owners

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A new report shows female small business owners still are in the minority in the Grand Rapids area.

Self Financial last week published a report, “Cities with the Most Female Business Owners,” and Grand Rapids-Kentwood came in 48th out of 53 large metropolitan areas measured — the sixth-lowest percentage.

“Female workers face a number of challenges, including inequities in pay and underrepresentation in certain industries and occupations. And while the share of female business owners is on the rise, women still own far fewer businesses than men,” wrote Lauren Bringle in the report for Self. “While women account for 48% of all workers nationally, they make up just 38.4% of business owners, according to data from the Census Bureau. Among owners of incorporated businesses, women are even more scarce, accounting for just one-third of incorporated business owners.”

Self said the share of female business ownership in the U.S. went from 35.2% in 2010 to 38.4% in 2019.

“Women start businesses for many of the same reasons as men — namely, to be their own boss, to follow a passion or to pursue a new opportunity,” Bringle wrote. “But women are much more likely than men to cite increased flexibility and the ability to control their schedules as important motivators in starting their own businesses.”

To find the metro areas with the most female business owners, researchers at Self Financial analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The researchers ranked metro areas according to the percentage of business owners who are female. Researchers also calculated the total number of female business owners, the total number of female business owners for both incorporated and unincorporated firms, and the most active industry for female business owners.

To improve relevance, only metro areas with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis. Additionally, metro areas were grouped into cohorts based on population size: small metros, 100,000-349,999 residents; midsize metros, 350,000-999,999 residents; and large metros, 1 million or more residents.

Self Financial found Grand Rapids-Kentwood has 16,529 female business owners, which amounts to 36.2% of all business owners, with 4,847 of those incorporated firms and 11,682 unincorporated. The study found the service industry was the most active industry for Grand Rapids-area women-owned businesses.

Overall U.S. statistics

Percentage of business owners who are female: 38.4%

Total number of female business owners: 5,885,105

Total number of female business owners (incorporated firms): 1,900,931

Total number of female business owners (unincorporated firms): 3,984,174

Most active industry for female business owners: Professional, scientific and management; administrative and waste management services

Top 10

  1. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington, 46.2%, 87,953 total female-owned businesses
  2. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Oregon/Washington, 44.7%, 59,373
  3. Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, Texas: 44.1%, 61,150
  4. Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Virginia/North Carolina: 43.7%, 27,727
  5. Tucson, Arizona: 43.5%, 20,802
  6. San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, California: 43.4%, 117,086
  7. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California: 43.2%, 36,364
  8. Raleigh-Cary, North Carolina: 43.1%, 29,004
  9. Richmond, Virginia: 42.9%, 24,475
  10. Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria, Virginia-Maryland-West Virginia

Bottom 10

  1. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, California: 36.7%, 74,201
  2. Providence-Warwick, Rhode Island-Massachusetts
  3. Buffalo-Cheektowaga, New York: 36.4%, 13,935
  4. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Michigan: 36.3%, 59,789
  5. Grand Rapids-Kentwood, Michigan: 36.2%, 16,529
  6. Rochester, New York: 36.2%, 15,892
  7. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: 36.1%, 31,858
  8. Birmingham-Hoover, Alabama: 35.9%, 16,664
  9. Cleveland-Elyria, Ohio: 35.5%, 26,850
  10. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Florida: 35%, 46,553

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