Women and minority owners are more common at Maine’s newest businesses

Social and cultural changes are making an impact on new business starts in Maine, with female- and minority-owned businesses showing up in greater numbers.

But while minority business ownership is on par with Maine’s relatively small non-white population, the share of female business owners remains about half of the state’s 51.1 percent female population.

The figures come from a new U.S. Census Bureau survey of entrepreneurs that shows demographic trends among the country’s employers, revealing to what extent changes in Maine’s business community reflect broader population changes.

Compared with male-owned businesses in Maine, the figures show that female- and minority-owned businesses had a greater share that were two years or younger. About one in five Maine businesses with non-white owners had operated for two years or less by the 2014 survey. For female owners, such young businesses made up about one in 10.

Compare that with about one in 12 male-owned businesses in that age group.

That trend can be viewed another way, looking at the rising share of minority-owned businesses by the age category. Minority owners held about 4.3 percent of all businesses operating between two and three years in 2014. For businesses operating for less than two years, about 8 percent had minority owners.

You can compare the changes by business age for Maine looking across business age groups in the chart below, which also shows whitest-in-the-nation Maine consistently around the bottom (but not dead last) for the share of minority business owners.

Female business ownership has also become more common, but the share is still far behind being representative of the population, which is 51.1 percent female.

The new figures show that about 22 percent of businesses less than two years old have a female owner, compared with about 16 percent female ownership across all employers.

The figures are in line with general income figures as well, which in 2013 showed that females made up just one in four of the state’s top earners.

Nationally, Maine’s female business ownership share of 18 percent puts it ahead of most states. About 57 percent of Maine businesses are at least majority owned by males.

Overall, Maine has a higher share of such young businesses than its neighbors in Northern New England, but it lags the national share of about 9 percent.

With about 7.3 percent of employers operating for two years or less by the 2014 survey, Maine was on par with Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.