This section summarizes information about why, how, and which businesses are covered in the Economic Census, provides links to more specific coverage information, and includes other census-related information.
Economic Census coverage is virtually economy-wide. It includes businesses that produce 84 percent
of all U.S. goods and services. These business activities take place at some 23 million separate
locations, and in more than 50,000 localities, nationwide.
In conducting the Economic Census, the Census Bureau obtains information about each of these businesses every 5 years, summarizes it by kind of business and geographic area, and publishes the results in more than 1,700 printed and electronic reports.
Conducting the Economic Census requires a complete and consistent framework to describe (classify) each covered business. Such a framework lets the Census Bureau adapt its forms for different kinds of business and treat businesses that are similar but in different locations comparably. It also allows Economic Census statistics to be used with business statistics from other sources.
The framework used to classify businesses in the Economic Census is the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). NAICS (used for official business statistics in the United States, Canada and Mexico) provides over 1,100 detailed industry classifications, and a hierarchy of classification groups that aggregate detailed classifications into 20 broad business groups or sectors.
In addition to providing virtually complete and comparable U.S. business statistics, the Economic Census includes other related and integral 5-year data collections. These programs supplement basic Economic Census statistics on topics or areas of special interest. These census-related programs are listed and summarized below: