Military-veteran business owners came out of the recession in worse shape than non-veteran entrepreneurs, according to a study released Monday by the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy.

Veteran entrepreneurs accounted for about 73 percent of the 800,000 plunge in small businesses from 2007 to 2013.

One year before the start of the recession, 21.5 percent of veterans (3.1 million) owned small businesses.

Four years after the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers, which is generally recognized as the start of the downturn, those numbers plummeted to 17.4 percent and 2.3 million.

The greater net worth of veteran business owners to their non-veteran peers has shrunk on average from over 55 percent in 1989 to less than 13 percent in 2013.

Before 2004, veteran business owners held an advantage in income over non-veteran business owners. But by the recession, the ranking reversed and has stayed that way.

While the number of veteran-owned small businesses declined relative to non-vet companies in that period, the average size remained comparable.

In 2007 and 2013, for both veteran and non-veteran entrepreneurs, over 70 percent of the small businesses had five or fewer employees and over 50 percent had sales under $100,000.

While the news is bad for veteran small-business owners, the study concludes their decisions to buy or start firms was smart.

“Even though the recovery has been slow for veteran households with small businesses, these households have fared better than veteran households without small businesses,” said the report.

Overall, veterans have 14 percent of the income ($404.1 billion of $2.8 trillion of income) and 19 percent of net worth ($5.5 trillion of $28.1 trillion of net worth) of all small business owners.

Pointing to the aging of the nation’s veteran population, the researchers said Social Security and pensions accounted for 27.3 percent of veterans’ incomes versus 6.2 percent for non-veterans.

The researcher who conducted the study, Montana State University Economics Professor George Haynes, said the data he has is very good at disclosing what is happening with small business owners, but does not clearly show why.