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2012 Economic Census

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About the Survey


The Economic Census is the U.S. Government's official five-year measure of American business and the economy. It is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Economic Census is the most comprehensive source of information about American businesses from the national to the local level. Published data cover more than 1,000 industries, 15,000 products, every state, the District of Columbia, over 3,000 counties, 10,000 cities and towns, and Puerto Rico and other U.S. Island Areas. The 2012 Economic Census is currently underway; the most recent completed census provides information for calendar year 2007 at American Fact Finder. See for what businesses need to know about the 2012 Economic Census. See Business Classification for how businesses are coded and classified, and product classification.


  • Nearly 4 million businesses with paid employees will receive census forms, most in the middle of December 2012.
  • Economic Census forms are sent to most businesses in nearly every industry in the private, non-farm economy and every geographic area of the U.S., Puerto Rico, and other U.S. Island Areas. Although the precise cutoff varies from industry to industry, most businesses with four or more paid employees, and a sample of smaller ones, will receive a census form.
  • For a list of industries not covered by the Economic Census - see Codes Not Covered in the 2012 Economic Census.
  • There is a separate Census of Governments and Census of Agriculture Off Site, conducted for the same years as the Economic Census.

Data Products

Economic Census statistics are more complete, specific, reliable, and useful than any other single set of economic information. The 2012 Economic Census will feature all-new economic classifications, new nationwide data by economic sector, and fresh details for more than 1,000 separate industries and over 40,000 geographic areas. All 2012 Economic Census results will be released intermittently on the Internet at American Fact Finder, starting with the Advance Report in March 2014.

The Economic Census provides official measures of output for industries and geographic areas and serves as the cornerstone of the nation's economic statistics, providing key source data for the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and other indicators of economic performance used by trade associations, business organizations, economic development agencies, and individual businesses to assess and improve business performance. See Industry Snapshots for examples of the kinds of data available.


Economic Censuses have been taken periodically since 1810. Over the years, the U.S. economy has grown and changed, demand for and use of economic statistics has burgeoned, and Economic Census responsibilities and methods have evolved. Economic Censuses were taken separately from the population census starting in the 1930s. Title 13 of the United States Code, enacted in the 1950s, established a regular five-year cycle for the Economic Census. The 2012 Economic Census is the first to provide single-establishment companies, including companies receiving a classification form, the ability to report online without having to download electronic reporting software.


How Data Are Used

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | EC2012 BHS Team |   Last Revised: March 10, 2016 10:47:44