Business Ownership by Gender in Oregon

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The U.S. Census Bureau recently started the Annual Business Survey to supplement 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.

Majority of Firms Are Male-Owned

In 2020, the Annual Business Survey captured information for 91,000 firms in Oregon. Men owned the majority (55%) of these firms, while women owned 22%. Equally male/female owned or unclassified businesses made up 23% of the total.

Male ownership was especially concentrated in a few industries in 2020. The highest rates of male ownership were in construction (74% male-owned), transportation and warehousing (67%), and manufacturing (63%). Female ownership was highest in health care and social assistance (40%), real estate and rental and leasing (31%), and other services (30%). Other services is a broad sector that include industries ranging from automotive repair and maintenance to social advocacy organizations.

Higher Wages in Male-Owned Firms

Oregon’s male-owned firms with payroll employees paid higher average wages ($42,700) than their female-owned counterparts ($35,600). 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 2020 included finance and insurance ($90,900), information ($88,300), professional and technical services ($85,500), wholesale trade ($71,200), and manufacturing ($66,200). Men owned more than 55% of firms in each of these sectors in 2020.  

However, even female-owned firms in high paying sectors had lower average wages than their male-owned counterparts. In finance and insurance, for example, female-owned firms had average wages of $44,500, considerably lower than male-owned firms ($86,300).

Of the data available for 2020, female-owned enterprises made up the largest share of firms in one sector: health care and social assistance. In this industry, as in Oregon’s highest paying sectors, female-owned firms had lower average annual wages ($34,700) than their male-owned counterparts ($44,500).

Contrary to this general trend, however, female-owned firms paid similar average wages in the traditionally male-dominated construction sector in 2020. Average wages in female-owned constructions firms were $54,400, slightly above the $53,800 paid in male-owned firms. Female-owned firms in the accommodation and food services sector also had higher average wages.

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

by Luke Coury

Oregon Employment Department

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