Business Ownership by Gender in Oregon

by Gail Krumenauer

November 13, 2018

The U.S. Census Bureau recently started the Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs to supplement to its once-every-five-years Economic Census survey of business owners. The results of both efforts provide insightful information about business ownership by gender, race, and ethnicity not available through any other source.

Higher Wages in Male-Owned Firms

In 2016, the Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs captured information for 87,000 firms in Oregon. Of these, more than 81,000 were classifiable by gender, ethnicity, or race. Men owned the majority (57%) of these firms, while women owned 23 percent, and equally male/female owned businesses made up 20 percent of the total.

Oregon’s male-owned firms with payroll employees also paid higher average wages ($44,500) than their female-owned counterparts ($30,500). This disparity in average wages can be partially attributed to the industry distribution of firms by male and female ownership. Oregon’s high-paying sectors in 2016 included finance and insurance ($77,300), professional and technical services ($74,400), manufacturing ($67,500), and construction ($55,900). Men owned two-thirds (67%) of the firms in these industries in 2016.
Even in industries where both men and women had relatively high concentrations of firm ownership, the male-owned businesses with payroll employees reported higher average wages. Sectors with the highest rates of female firm ownership included health care (38%) and real estate, rental, and leasing (30%).  Annual wages at female-owned health care firms averaged $25,800, compared with $43,100 at male-owned health care firms. Average annual wages were closer in real estate, where female-owned firms paid $31,900 while male-owned firms averaged $35,000.
Female-Owned Firms Lead Education

Female-owned enterprises made up the majority of firms in one sector: education services. Unfortunately the annual payroll information for this relatively small private sector were unavailable in 2016.

Female-owned firms did pay higher average wages in the traditionally male-dominated agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting sector in 2012 (unavailable data in 2016). In these natural resources businesses, it appears equally male/female owned firms fared best of all ownerships with a $40,600 average wage.

More information about business ownership by industry and gender, race, or ethnicity can be found at


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