Women- and Minority-Owned Firms are Growing into the Middle Market at More Than Five Times the Rate of All Commercially-Active Businesses

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The FINANCIAL — Women-owned and minority-owned middle market businesses have outpaced the growth of mid-sized companies as a whole over the past six years, according to the Middle Market Power Index: The Growing Economic Clout of Diverse Middle Market Firms from American Express and Dun & Bradstreet.

According to the new analysis, women-owned and minority-owned businesses are entering the middle market at a much faster rate than the average commercially-active business. While the number of all U.S. mid-sized businesses increased by 4.1% from 2008-2014, the number of women-owned middle market companies grew by 23.6% and the number of minority-owned middle market companies rose by 22.1% during that period.

“It is exciting to see that women- and minority-owned businesses are now responsible for much of the dynamism in middle market growth,” said Jeff Stibel, Vice Chairman of Dun & Bradstreet.

Utilizing Dun & Bradstreet’s proprietary databases of commercially-active U.S. firms, this third in a series of reports from American Express and Dun & Bradstreet investigates growing ethnic and gender diversity in the ownership of middle market enterprises, defined as businesses generating between $10 million and $1 billion in revenues. This report also looks at how these firms differ from all middle market companies by size, industry sector and number of years in business.

Diverse Enterprises Are Driving Revenue and Employment Growth Within The Middle Market and Among Peers

Among the 136,603 middle market companies in the U.S., women-owned companies make up 6% and minority-owned companies make up 5%. Despite their smaller representation, both groups are generating an outsized portion of revenue and job growth within the middle market population.

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While overall middle market revenue fell 2.2% between 2008 and 2014, revenue rose 22.7% among women-owned businesses and 19.3% among minority-owned businesses.

During that same period, employment in the middle market grew 4.4%, but surged 37.8% among women-owned firms and 38.7% among minority-owned firms – nearly nine times the average rate.

These companies are also driving significant growth among their peers beyond the middle market sector:

Middle market women-owned firms represent just 0.7% of all women-owned enterprises in the U.S., but employ 23% of the workforce accounted for by all women-owned companies and contribute nearly one-third (32%) of revenues accounted for by women-owned companies.

Similarly, minority-owned middle market firms represent 1.6% of all minority-owned enterprises in the U.S., but employ over one-third (34%) of workers accounted for by all minority-owned businesses and generate 42% of the revenues accounted for by minority-owned businesses.

“This report shines a light on the substantial contributions that diverse middle market businesses have made to the country’s overall economic health over the past six years,” said Susan Sobbott, president, Global Corporate Payments, American Express. “The analysis shows women and minority-owned companies are punching above their weight and fueling all-around growth in the middle market.”

Women- and Minority-Owned Middle Market Companies Have Room to Grow

Most middle market enterprises fall within the lower end of the revenue size spectrum, with more than half (51%) generating revenues between $10 million and $19.9 million. Middle market women-owned and minority-owned companies are smaller than the average middle market firm in terms of revenue generated and in number of employees.

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As of 2014, 61% of women-owned middle market firms generate between $10 million and $19.9 million in revenues, 32% generate between $20 million and $49.9 million, and just 6% generate between $50 million and $1 billion. Additionally, only 7% of women-owned firms employ 500 or more employees – compared to 15% of middle market companies overall.

Minority-owned middle market businesses are only slightly larger than women-owned firms, with, as of 2014, 56% generating between $10 million and $19.9 million in revenues, 33% between $20 million and $49.9 million, and 11% between $50 million and $1 billion. Looking at employment size, just 9% of minority-owned middle market companies employ 500 or more workers.

Women- and Minority-Owned Middle Market Companies Span the Country

While the national average of women-owned middle market enterprises is 6%, states with the highest percentage of women-owned middle market enterprises include:

Alaska (13%)

Virginia (11%)

Maryland (9%)

Michigan (9%)

In addition to these states, higher than average percentages of women-owned middle market companies exist in the U.S. Virgin Islands (10%) and Puerto Rico (9%).

Further, states with greater ethnic diversity also enjoy the highest percentage of minority-owned middle market firms. These are:

Hawaii (21%)

Alaska (19%)

Virginia (12%)

New Mexico (11%)

Maryland (10%)

In addition to these states, Puerto Rico also has higher than average percentage of minority-owned middle market businesses (38%).


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