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Report: Women-owned businesses facing longer road to recovery


A survey of women-owned businesses in the U.S. shows that they expect it will take longer for them to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic than businesses owned by men, which could mean more than a third of Louisiana businesses could have a longer road to recovery.

The most recent U.S. Census Bureau information shows that women-owned businesses accounted for about 36.5% of all businesses in Louisiana in 2012 — a much higher rate than the national average of 21%, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Freshbooks, a company that helps small businesses and self-employed entrepreneurs, released a study in March detailing that women-owned businesses nationwide were hit harder and will take longer to recover than their male-owned counterparts.

According to Freshbooks, businesses owned by women are taking three times longer to recover from the financial setbacks brought on by COVID-19 than male-owned business. Even in industries that have bounced back quickly — like construction — self-employed women are recovering slower than men.

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Around 60% of women told Freshbooks it would take them longer than six months for their business to recover. Fewer than half of men said it take longer than six months, data shows.

Industries where women-owned businesses are well-represented, such as education and social assistance, were among the hardest hit nationwide, particularly when states had strict social-distancing regulations. Women were also more likely to be caring for children or the elderly during the pandemic, impacting their businesses.

According to Freshbooks, around 69% of women saw a decrease in revenue during the pandemic. About 59% of men saw revenue decrease, according to the survey.

Women workers, not just business owners, in Louisiana have fared about as well as men, data from the 2021 Louisiana Survey shows. The Louisiana Survey is an annual study from LSU that looks at Louisiana residents' opinions on a variety of issues.

A part of the survey released Thursday showed that 31% of men said they had been laid off or lost wages as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to about 30% of women.

About 29% of women surveyed said someone else in their household had lost wages or been laid off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to about 24% of men. 

As Louisiana has addressed the COVID-19 economic impact, some programs have been geared toward specifically helping women-, minority-, and veteran-owned businesses. The Main Street Recovery Program, which allocated $262 million in grants to aid small businesses, gave around $160 million to those businesses owned by minorities, veterans or women, exceeding the original goal of $40 million, according to the Louisiana Department of Treasury.