The most reliable data on the number of hair salons is the information
collected by the U.S. Census Bureau. Unfortunately, Census data does
not distinguish between women's salons that offer hairstyling, facials
and makeup. For the Census Bureau, all those establishments belong to
the same category, "Beauty Salons". Since this is the only nationwide
statistical data on the number of women's hair salons, there remains
no other choice than to accept it as an approximate value, regardless
of the inevitable inaccuracy caused by the inclusion of two related
types of establishments that are, at least, often integrated part of a
women's hairstyling salon, which reduces the margin of error.
Fortunately, the data for men's hair salons is more exact. The
respective category includes just men's hairstylists and barber shops.
The Census Bureau defines "Barber Shops" as "establishments known as
barber shops or men's hair stylist shops primarily engaged in cutting,
trimming, and styling boys' and men's hair; and/or shaving and
trimming men's beards", so the emphasis is clearly on hairdressing.
"Beauty Salons" are defined as "establishments (except those known as
barber shops or men's hair stylist shops) primarily engaged in one or
more of the following: (1) cutting, trimming, shampooing, weaving,
coloring, waving, or styling hair; (2) providing facials; and (3)
applying makeup (except permanent makeup)." Again, hair styling is
clearly in the foreground.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2002 Economic Census, which is
the most up-to-date data available to the public, there are:
-- 85,492 establishments in the category "Barber Shops", of which
81,432 are non-employers and 4,060 are employers.
-- 474,367 establishments in the category "Beauty Salons", of which
400,414 are non-employers and 73,953 are employers.
Estimations about the nationwide number of hair stylists can be found
at the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here too,
there is no specific category "Hair Stylist" in the system of
occupation categorization. Hair stylists are included in the category
"Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists", with no further
According to the data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics,
there were 670,000 barbers, hairdressers, hairstylists, and
cosmetologists in 2004, of which 48% were self-employed. In May 2005,
there were 338,910 employed barbers, hairdressers, hairstylists, and
Despite the inaccuracies due to the classification systems used by the
U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is the
best and most current data available on the number of hair salons and
hairstylists. I hope that it will be useful for you.
U.S. Census Bureau: 2002 Economic Census - Beauty Salons
U.S. Census Bureau: 2002 Economic Census - Barber Shops
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics: Barbers,
Cosmetologists, and Other Personal Appearance Workers
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics: Hairdressers,
Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists