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Economic Census


The Census Bureau conducts the Economic Census twice per decade for years ending with digits "2" and "7." It provides a snapshot of the American economy at a given time. Establishments, rather than companies, are the basis of the census. Establishments are places where business is conducted. One company that has three different facilities represents three establishments.


Background Information to the Economic Census

Uses of the Economic Census

The Economic Census is an important source of facts about the structure and functioning of the nation's economy. The federal government uses the data to compile ongoing economic indicators, such as the gross national product, and to develop indexes that measure industrial production and price levels. State and local governments use the data to assess business activities in their jurisdictions. Business people use the data to:

  • Forecast general economic conditions and sales.
  • Analyze sales performance.
  • Establish sales territories.
  • Allocate funds for advertising.
  • Locate new plants, warehouses, and stores.
  • Measure potential markets.

Additionally, trade and professional associations use the Economic Census to study and forecast trends that may affect their industries. This information is also valuable to university students, faculty, and others who must do any of the above as part of their research.

Selected Guides to the Economic Census

2007 Economic Census User Guide (U.S. Census Bureau)
http://pasdc.hbg.psu.edu/sdc/pasdc_files/pastats/econ_user_guide.pdf
Links deal with what's new in 2007, finding and using data, understanding datasets, codes and classification systems, census geography, methodology, and notes and cautions.

Economic Censuses and Related Publications (Michigan State University Libraries)
http://libguides.lib.msu.edu/content.php?pid=56418&sid=415287
Describes the various publications that comprise the Economic Census and their history; the collection and reporting of data; and related documents.

Economic Census.business.census.gov – Help Center (U.S. Census Bureau)
http://www.census.gov/econ/census/help/
View six guides that help you understand the Economic Census and business statistics.

  • American FactFinder (Learn about the Census Bureau’s key data dissemination tool)
  • Methodology and Disclosure Help Center (Learn how we collect data and protect the identity of our respondents)
  • Understanding Economic Data (Learn the who, what, when, why, and how of economic data)
  • Understanding Geography (Learn about geography, view a variety of reference maps, and find data by geography)
  • Understanding Industry Classification Systems – NAICS (Learn how we classify businesses and economic output)
  • What Data Tools are Available (Learn about different data access tools)

Glossary of Terms: Business Help Site (U.S. Census Bureau)
https://bhs.econ.census.gov/ec12/pages/glossary.html

Guide to the Economic Census (U.S. Census Bureau)
http://www.census.gov/econ/census02/guide/
One of the best single Web sites that describe all aspects of the census. Topics include uses of the data; data collection; industries and geographies covered; contents of data items; types of reports and publication mediums (i.e., Internet, DVD, and paper); and tips on working with the data. A comparable site covering the 1997 Census is at http://www.census.gov/epcd/www/guide.html .

History of the Economic Census: In Business Since 1810 (U.S. Census Bureau)
http://www.census.gov/econ/census/about/history.html
Presents a brief yet informative overview.

Industry Research Using the Economic Census: How to Find It, How to Use It (Jennifer C. Boettcher and Leonard M. Gaines)
Lockwood Reference HC101 .B594 2004
The most comprehensive text on the topic.

Publications (U.S. Census Bureau)
http://www.census.gov/prod/www
Lists broad categories for locating Census Bureau publications. Those pertinent to the Economic Census are Business-Trade and Services; Construction and Housing; Economic Census; and Manufacturing and Mineral Industries.

Symposium on the 1997 Economic Census (JAI Press, Inc.)
http://www.census.gov/epcd/www/giq97.html
LOCKWOOD Periodical Collection Per K3560 .G68
Articles reproduced from Government Information Quarterly , 15:3 (1998) cover the content of the Census; the new North American Industry Classification system; conducting the Census; information dissemination; uses of the data; and the history of the Economic Census.


North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)

Organization of the 1997 and Economic Censuses are by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. The United States, Canada, and Mexico adopted this scheme to categorize industries. NAICS codes begin with 2 digits that represent broad industry sectors, and expand to 6 digits that categorize specific products in an industry. Figure 1 illustrates an example.

Figure 1
NAICS Codes

NAICS CodesDescription
31-33 Manufacturing industries
311 Food manufacturing
3115 Dairy product manufacturing
31151 Dairy product (except Frozen) manufacturing
311513 Cheese manufacturing

Figure 2 presents a list and description of the 18 2-digit codes.

Figure 2
Industry Reports

NAICS CodeDescription
21 Mining: Covers establishments that extract minerals, prepare them on site as necessary, and explore and develop properties.
22

Utilities: Deals with electric, gas, water, steam, and sewer services. Waste management services is within code 56 and pipeline transportation of gas and petroleum is within codes 48-49.

23 Construction: Covers building, developing, general contracting, heavy construction, land subdividers, and construction management.
31-33 Manufacturing: Includes establishments that mechanically or chemically transform materials into new products.
42

Wholesale Trade: Pertains to establishments that purchase goods they sell, branches of manufacturing establishments that sell products made by their own company, and those who receive commissions for arranging sales of merchandise owned by others.

44-45 Retail Trade: Covers retail establishments that sell goods for personal or household consumption. Very important: The basis of these data are types of establishments, not products. For example, retail trade measures sales in supermarkets, but does not calculate the amount of candy sold. "Value of shipments," calculated in the manufacturing sector, provides the best estimate of the dollar value and quantity of products sold. The Retail Trade series includes a report, Merchandise Line Sales , that presents very limited sales data for broad categories of products.
48-49 Transportation and Warehousing: Includes air, rail, water, truck, mass transit, taxi, pipeline, sightseeing, postal service, couriers, services that support transportation (i.e., air traffic control), and warehousing and storage.
51 Information: Pertains to publishing, motion picture and sound recording, broadcasting, telecommunications, and data processing.
52 Finance and Insurance: Covers banking, credit services, securities and other financial services, and insurance.
53 Real Estate, Rental, and Leasing: Deals with rental and leasing services; sale and purchase of properties; real estate management; and real estate appraisal.
54 Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services: Provides highly specialized services to other industries. Examples include accounting, advertising, law, and engineering firms, and computer services.
55 Management of Companies and Enterprises: Pertains to establishments that administer or oversee companies. It also includes establishments that own securities of other companies, giving them controlling influences.
56 Administrative, Support, Waste Management, and Remediation Services: Provides daily support activities to other organizations, plus handling and processing of wastes.
61 Educational Services: Includes public and non-public institutions that offer instruction.
62 Health Care and Social Assistance: Includes establishments whose services are provided by professional health personnel or social workers.
71 Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation: Includes establishments that offer live performances for public viewing, museums, and leisure activities.
72 Accommodation and Food Services: Includes hotels, restaurants, and catering services.
81 Other Services (except Public Administration): Selected examples Include establishments that provide repair and maintenance services, personal services, such as hair cutting, laundry services, and religious, civic, and other volunteer groups.

A description and online access to NAICS codes are at http://www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/. Ask Dr. NAICS at http://www.census.gov/epcd/www/drnaics.htm answers frequently asked questions.


Economic Censuses: 1997-2007

2007 Economic Census
Access data through American FactFinder at http://factfinder2.census.gov.

2002 Economic Census
http://www.census.gov/econ/census02/
Provides data and links to documents in PDF format. A chart at http://www.census.gov/econ/census02/guide/g02sch3.htm#START illustrates the types of reports available, their publication media (i.e., PDF, Web, DVD), types of geographies covered, and expected dates of publication.  See also http://www.census.gov/prod/www/economic_census.html for a history of the Census and a list of reports in pdf format.

The following describes selected key segments of the series:

  • Industry Reports corresponding to the 18 2-digit NAICS Codes
    http://www.census.gov/econ/census02/guide/INDSUMM.HTM
  • Geographic Area Series
    http://www.census.gov/econ/census02/guide/geosumm.htm
    Fifty state reports cover metropolitan areas, counties, and selected cities in the respective geographies.
  • Subject Reports
    http://www.census.gov/econ/census02/guide/SUBSUMM.HTM
    Provides national and, in some cases, state data on:
    • Mining Utilities
    • Construction
    • Manufacturing
    • Wholesale Trade
    • Retail Trade
    • Transportation and Warehousing
    • Information
    • Finance and Insurance
    • Real Estate and Rental and Leasing
    • Management of Companies and Enterprises
    • Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services
    • Educational Services
    • Health Care and Social Assistance
    • Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation
    • Accommodation and Food Services
    • Other Services (except Public Administration)

ZIP Code Statistics
Provides number of establishments by employment size and by sales size by NAICS code for 5-digit ZIP Code. Data cover selected industry sectors. The Census Bureau will publish the data in late 2006.

  • Nonemployer Statistics
    http://www.census.gov/epcd/nonemployer//us/US000.HTM
    The only source for information about nonemployers. Statistics cover 16 million small businesses not included in other census reports.
  • Survey of Business Owners
    Covers businesses owned by Blacks, Hispanics, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Asians, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, and women. This data will be published in 2006.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) at http://www.census.gov/epcd/www/faq.htm describes how to navigate this site; download data; rank industries with geographic areas; and locate related information in other sources. Much of this information is equally as relevant to 1997 as .

1997 Economic Census
http://www.census.gov/epcd/www/econ97.html
Provides data and links to documents in PDF format. 

The following describes key segments of the 1997 series:

See also http://www.census.gov/prod/www/economic_census.html for a history of the Census and a list of reports in pdf format.

American FactFinder (U.S. Census Bureau)
http://factfinder2.census.gov
The Census Bureau developed FactFinder as a dissemination tool for the 2000 Census of Population and Housing, but it now includes the Economic Censuse beginning with 2002.

Earlier Economic Censuses

Electronic Versions

1992 Economic Census
http://www.census.gov/epcd/www/92result.html
Links to PDF files. The CD-ROMs are at Capen Multimedia Center US CD-ROM C 3.277: CD-EC/ 92- .  See also http://www.census.gov/prod/www/economic_census.html for a history of the Census and a list of reports in pdf format.

1987 Economic Censuses
Capen Multimedia Center US CD-ROM C 3.277: EC 7/ 987/

Paper and Microfiche

The following Economic Censuses are available in the Lockwood Documents collection. Note:

  1. Titles may vary from census to census.
  2. Superintendent of Documents (SuDoc) numbers may vary a bit.
  3. Selected items may be on microfiche.
  • Census of Manufactures
    Covers establishments that mechanically or chemically transform materials or substances into new products. Information is for the nation, states, metropolitan areas, counties, places, and zip codes. Example: the food processing industry transforms fresh fruit into the canned product. Data for the fruit itself, the raw material, are part of the Census of Agriculture. (http://www.nass.usda.gov/)
    1927, 1929, 1931, 1933, 1939, 1947, 1954, 1958, 1963, 1967, 1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, and 1992 (Lockwood Documents US C3.24).
  • Census of Mineral Industries
    Covers establishments that extract minerals, prepare them on site as necessary, and explore and develop mineral properties. Statistics are for the nation, states, and counties. Example: mining establishments dig for tin from which cans are manufactured.
    1963, 1967, 1977, 1982, 1987, and 1992 (Lockwood Documents US C3.216)
    1972 (Lockwood Documents US C56.236/6:)
  • Census of Wholesale Trade
    Covers establishments that sell to retailers; to commercial, industrial, farm, and institutional users; and to other wholesalers. Information covers the nation, states, metropolitan areas, counties, and places of greater than 2,500 population. Example: wholesalers sell tin cans made by metal manufacturers to the food processing industry. They also sell canned products supermarkets and restaurants.
    1972 (Lockwood Documents US C56.252/5:)
    1977, 1982, 1987, 1992 (Lockwood Documents US C3.256/2:)
    1997 (Lockwood Documents US C3.277/2).
    Click here for reference to earlier information published in the Census of Business .
  • Census of Retail Trade (Lockwood Documents US C3.255)
    Covers retail establishments that sell merchandise for personal or household consumption. Coverage is for the nation, states, metropolitan areas, counties, and places of greater than 2,500 population. Example: covers sales of department stores. However, as with retail trade, we cannot determine how many shirts department stores sold. The data measure sales of all products in department stores. The basis of these data are types of establishments, not products. Click here to consult the very important distinction between retail establishments and value of shipments.
    1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, and 1997 (Lockwood Documents US C3.227/2:)
    1972 (Lockwood Documents US C56.251/6:)
    Click here for reference to earlier information published in the Census of Business .
  • Census of Service Industries
    Includes establishments providing services for individuals, businesses, governments, and other organizations. Information covers the nation, states, metropolitan areas, counties, and places. Example: establishments offering recreation and amusement services. Click here to consult the very important distinction between service establishments and value of shipments.
    1977 (paper and MicFiche), 1982, 1987, and 1992 (Lockwood Documents US C3.257:)
    1972 (Lockwood Documents US C56.253/5:)
    Click here for reference to earlier information published in the Census of Business .
  • Census of Business
    Included parts of what became the Censuses of Wholesale Trade, Retail Trade, and Service Industries.
    1933 and 1935 (Lockwood Documents C3.120/1:)
    1939 (Lockwood Documents US C3.940-5:B96 1939)
    1930, 1948, 1954, 1958, 1963, and 1967 (Lockwood Documents US C3.202/5:)
  • Census of Financial, Insurance, and Real Estate Industries
    Covers establishments providing financial, insurance, and real estate services. These data are available for the first time in 1992. Statistics deal with the nation, states, and metropolitan areas. Example: establishments offer accounting and insurance services to other companies
    1992 (Lockwood Documents US C3.291:)
  • Census of Transportation, Communications, and Utilities
    Traditionally covers trucking, warehousing, water transportation, transportation services, and truck inventory and use. For the first time, the 1992 Census includes communications, electric and gas utilities, sanitary services, buses, airlines, and pipeline transportation. Data are for the nation, states, and metropolitan areas. Example: food warehouses and shipping food to supermarkets and restaurants.
    1963, 1967, 1977 (MicFiche), 1982, and 1987 (Lockwood Documents US C3.233/5:)
    Other titles include:
      • Census of Transportation and Warehousing
        1992 (Lockwood Documents C3.292:)
        1997 (Lockwood Documents C3.277:)
      • Census of Transportation, Communications, and Utilities
        1992 (Lockwood Documents C3.292:)
      • Census of Transportation. Truck Inventory and Use Survey
        1977, 1982, 1987, and 1992 (Lockwood Documents C3.233/5:)
        1972 ( Lockwood Documents C56.246/3:.)
  • Census of Construction Industries
    Covers establishments engaging in construction of new homes and other buildings; heavy construction, such as highways; and special trades, such as plumbing and electrical work. Construction undertaken by homeowners or by non-construction businesses are excluded. Selected data cover metropolitan areas, but most statistics deal with the nation and states. See Guide to Data Sources for Construction from the U.S. Census Bureau (http://www.census.gov/econ/construction.html) for additional information.
    1930 (Lockwood Documents US C3.202/5:)
    1967, 1977, 1982, 1987, and 1992 (Lockwood Documents C3.245:)
  • Enterprise Statistics
    Regroups establishment-based data to show characteristics of owning or controlling firms.
    1958, 1963, 1967, 1972, and 1987, (Lockwood Documents US C3.230:)
    1977 and 1992 ( Capen Multimedia Center US MicFiche C3.230:)
  • Minority and Women Owned Business
    Describes characteristics of businesses owned by Blacks, Hispanics, Asian Americans, American Indians, other minorities, and women.
    • 1972 (Lockwood Documents C56.260:)
    • 1977 and 1987 (Lockwood Documents C3.258:)
    • 1977, 1982, and 1992 Capen Multimedia Center US MicFiche c3.258:)
    • 1997 (Lockwood Documents C3.277/3: