The number of businesses owned by women in South Carolina has more than doubled in the past two decades, according to the annual State of Women-Owned Businesses report, commissioned by American Express OPEN.

South Carolina ranked fourth in the growing number of women-owned firms, with more than 164,4000 businesses employing more than 111,000 people bringing in more than an estimated $1.6 million in sales last year, the study said.

The report’s findings were based on data analyzed from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners, while factoring in relative changes in Gross Domestic Product.

Georgia ranked first nationwide, while Florida came in second, and Nevada ranked third. After South Carolina, Mississippi ranked fifth. The rankings were determined on a per capita basis. Women-led companies have also doubled nationally over 20 years with 11.6 million women-owned businesses that employ nearly nine million people and generate more than $1.7 trillion in revenue, the study said.

The huge gain in the number of women-owned businesses and their revenue growth has not been matched by employment growth, particularly after the Great Recession, the study said.

Over the past 20 years, the number of women-owned firms increased 114% and revenues grew 103%, but employment grew only 27%. In the past year, job growth at women-owned companies is nearly flat with an increase of only 0.1%, the study said.

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