In celebration of National Women in Small Business Month, the NWBC recognizes their partner, the U.S. Census Bureau, in advocating for women-owned businesses. In 2012, the Survey of Business Owners (SBO) found that there were nearly 10 million women-owned business in the United States, that generated over $1.4 trillion in sales and employed over eight million people.

At the NWBC, we know that we cannot count what we do not measure. Sound policy initiatives and recommendations that improve the economic climate for women-owned firms are founded in reliable data and impactful research that drives actionable change.  To do this, the NWBC relies on the U.S. Census Bureau’s  SBO and Annual Survey of Entrepreneur (ASE) data to portray the state of women’s entrepreneurship and the impact that they have on the U.S. economy.

On September 20, 2018, the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC), in collaboration with the U.S. Census Bureau’s Center for Administrative Records Research and Application (CARRA), held the first ever federal government’s Demographics of the Entrepreneur & Self-employed Research Symposium.  This day-long event convened nearly 100 researchers and experts from across the country to explore topics related to entrepreneurship through the lens of gender, age, race, and ethnicity.

“Since the business census began counting women owned businesses in 1977, the U.S. Census Bureau has been a partner to NWBC. It was when the Census Bureau began counting women businesses that lawmakers began referring to women businesses as the sleeping giant of the U.S. economy” said NWBC Chair Liz Sara during her opening remarks. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with the US Census to ensure that the tremendous economic impact of women-owned businesses does not go unknown or unrecognized,” she continued. This was reiterated as 16 presenters discussed groundbreaking research and data related to topics such as the gig economy, millennial entrepreneurship, and motivation for starting a business.  A key concept throughout the presentations was the importance of current and reliable data to highlight key trends and statistics on business owners and self-employed individuals throughout the United States.

During the workshop, the U.S. Census Bureau discussed various changes that will be implemented to the economic census and data landscape and their goal of providing users with up-to-date data on business ownership. Specifically, they highlighted the forthcoming Annual Business Survey (ABS) and the proposed development of the Non-employer Statistics by Demographics Data (NESD). The new ABS will be a vital tool for generating policy recommendations for – and analyzing the impact of – employer firms by gender, race, ethnicity, and veteran status. However, employer firms are only one side of the story.

It remains critical to the continued success and advancement of women entrepreneurs and business owners that we continue to count all women-owned firms. As of 2012, nearly 90 percent or 8.8 million women-owned firms had no employees. These firms have contributed combined revenues exceeding $229 billion annually to the U.S. economy.  NWBC supports U.S. Census Bureau business data collection efforts, because a trustworthy measurement of non-employer firms allows the NWBC to develop a holistic picture of women entrepreneurs for policy makers and key stakeholders.

NWBC supports the U.S. Census Bureau’s development of NSED, which will ensure that the economic contributions of women-owned firms without employees will not be overlooked.   The NSED would provide the necessary data to account for all women-owned businesses in the U.S., the progress made, and the barriers that remain in their establishment and growth. Together, we – the National Women’s Business Council and the U.S. Census Bureau, must ensure that women-owned businesses continue to be counted.