Over the past seven years, the number of minority women-owned businesses has increased at a faster rate than all other businesses, according to a study released Tuesday by the Washington-based Center for Women’s Business Research.

The study found that between 1997 and 2004, the number of businesses that are owned 51 percent or more by minority women grew 54.5 percent–six times more than the 9 percent growth of all U.S. businesses.

Today, women of color own an estimated 1.4 million privately held businesses, employing nearly 1.3 million people and generating $147 billion in annual sales, the study said. California, Texas and Illinois were the top three states for minority women’s businesses, in terms of employment, sales and number growth.

“This is a positive sign for the entire country,” said Myra Hart, chair of the Center for Women’s Business Research, in a press release. “At this crucial time for the economy, we’re seeing that greater participation in entrepreneurship among women from a variety of backgrounds is playing an important role in facilitating economic growth.”


If the current pace of wage gains continues, it will be another 50 years before women’s wages equal those of their male counterparts, according to a study released by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research on Tuesday.

The group, an arm of The George Washington University in Washington, found that the gender pay gap had narrowed in every state between 1996 and 2002, but had not yet been eliminated anywhere.

Currently, the median wages for American women are 76.2 percent of men’s wages, according to the 2002-2003 Current Population Survey, a monthly survey conducted by the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is an increase of about 11 percent from 1996, when the median wages for women were only 68.5 percent of men’s.

But the gap is still too wide, many contend, and the reality is grimmer among minority women: African American women make 63 cents for every dollar a white male earns, and Hispanic women make just over 50 cents, the study found.

— Robin Hindery.