So to set the stage, nationally, we have the lowest overall unemployment rate since 1969and for all race/ ethnicity subcategories and levels of educational attainment. Regionally, our unemployment rate has fallen consistently since the peak of the Great Recession ended. But there are a great many clouds around the sunny story. Gender and race employment and wage inequality are top of mind issues — on the factory floor, in the boardroom, and in the classroom. We have profiled some concerning trends for gender and race/ethnicity on this blog not long ago.

For women, particularly minority women, what are some trends that are more hopeful? We found some encouraging news for this week’s Web Wednesday. A  really fascinating report from American Express (cover below) indicates positive trends in female-owned business formation, and shows strong increases in employment and revenue from these women-owned businesses. A really good summary of the full report findings can be found here, but scroll on down the post for a few highlights.

Am Express Report

The table below shows that the number of women-owned firms has grown by more than 20 percent since 2014, and that 50 percent of female-owned firms are minority-owned. Further the growth rate for minority-owned female firms is nearly nine times that of non-minority female-owned firms between 2014 and 2019.

table of relative growth

The positive trends aren’t confined exclusively to primary businesses, started by entrepreneurs. We learned a new term in the AmEx report: sidepreneur defined (like it sounds) as an owner of a secondary business start-up. Businesses like this are proliferating in the new sharing economy, with a high amount of temporary gig work being bought and sold. The table below shows that women are, decidedly, sidepreneuers.

So what does this growth mean and where do we stand? As you see on the map below, the report finds that growth of women-owned businesses in Georgia stands out among not just the Southeast states but across the nation. In fact, we rank No. 1 from 2014-2019 in the “economic clout” of women-owned businesses. Economic clout is an index derived from the growth rate of women-owned businesses, the growth rate of employment in those businesses, and the revenue growth rate at those businesses. The American Express report drills down below the state level, and Atlanta ranks third in economic clout among metros nationwide — we are behind only Detroit and Charlotte nationwide.

econ clout

So the growth of women-owned businesses is strong over the last five years, and even stronger for minority-owned female businesses. There are high hopes for a more equal economic future due in part to a degree of focus on policy measures to effect gender equality that has never existed before. But there remain many obstacles. For example, progress towards wage equity is threatened by what is known as the “motherhood penalty,” the costs of child care (data for Georgia), the (much related) increasing demands on women’s time in and out of the workplace, and the threat of automation to jobs more typically held by women.