A third of all businesses in California are now owned by women, with an especially big increase in women-owned companies in the Inland Empire, according to a new study from the Center for Economic Forecasting and Development at the University of California, Riverside.
From 2007 to 2012, the Inland Empire saw a 35 percent increase in women-owned businesses compared to 27 percent for California as a whole and 26.8 percent for the U.S. By comparison, the growth rate for all businesses during the same time was just 5 percent in California and 8 percent in the Inland Empire.
There are now more than 129,000 women-owned businesses in the Inland Empire, although most of them are very small, with only one employee.
Robert Kleinhenz, a UC Riverside economist, has a theory why the Inland Empire saw such a large hike.
“I don’t think that it’s an accident that this increase occurred after the Great Recession,” he said.
Kleinhenz said workers in the Inland Empire and women in particular were hardest hit by the downturn and the layoffs and downsizing that followed, so many women struck out on their own.
“Perhaps there was no alternative,” he said.
Women-owned businesses employ just 14 percent of the Inland Empire's workforce. However, Kleinhenz expects those numbers to increase as the companies grow.