Current Industrial Reports

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How the Data are Collected

The Current Industrial Report (CIR) program has been providing monthly, quarterly, and annual measures of industrial activity for many years. Since 1904, with its cotton and fats and oils surveys, the CIR program has formed an essential part of an integrated statistical system involving the quinquennial economic census, manufacturing sector, and the annual survey of manufactures. The surveys, however, provide current statistics at a more detailed product level than either of the other two statistical programs.

The primary objective of the CIR program is to produce timely, accurate data on production and shipments of selected products. The data are used to satisfy economic policy needs and for market analysis, forecasting, and decision making in the private sector. Individual firms, trade associations, and market analysts in planning or recommending marketing and legislative strategies use the product-level data generated by these surveys extensively, particularly if their industry is significantly affected by foreign trade. Although production and shipments information are the two most common data items collected, the CIR program collects other measures also such as inventories, orders, and consumption. These surveys measure manufacturing activity in important commodity areas such as textiles and apparel, chemicals, primary metals, computer and electronic components, industrial equipment, aerospace equipment, and consumer goods.

The CIR program uses a unified data collection, processing, and publication system. The U.S. Census Bureau updates the survey panels for most reports annually and reconciles the estimates to the results of the broader-based annual survey of manufactures and the economic census, manufacturing sector. The manufacturing sector provides a complete list of all producers of the products covered by the CIR program and serves as the primary source for CIR sampling. Where a small number of producers exist, CIR surveys cover all known producers of a product. However, when the number of producers is too large, cutoff and random sampling techniques are used. Surveys are continually reviewed and modified to provide the most up-to-date information on products produced. The CIR program includes a group of mandatory and voluntary surveys. Typically the monthly and quarterly surveys are conducted on a voluntary basis. Those companies that choose not to respond to the voluntary surveys are required to submit a mandatory annual counterpart corresponding to the more frequent survey.


The Census Bureau funds most of the surveys. However, other Federal Government agencies or private trade associations pay a number of surveys for either fully or partially. A few surveys are mandated, but Title 13 of the United States Code authorizes all.

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Reliability of Data

Survey error may result from several sources including the inability to obtain information about all cases in the survey, response errors, definitional difficulties, differences in the interpretation of questions, mistakes in recording or coding the reported data, and other errors of collection, response, coverage, and estimation. These nonsampling errors also occur in complete censuses. Although no direct measurement of the biases due to these nonsampling errors has been obtained, precautionary steps were taken in all phases of the collection, processing, and tabulation of the data in an effort to minimize their influence.

A major source of bias in the published estimates is the imputing of data for nonrespondents, for late reporters, and for data that fail logic edits. Missing figures are imputed based on period-to-period movements shown by reporting firms. A figure is considered to be an impute if the value was not directly reported on the questionnaire, directly derived from other reported items, directly available from supplemental sources, or obtained from the respondent during the analytical review phase. Imputation generally is limited to a maximum of 10 percent for any one data cell. Figures with imputation rates greater than 10 percent are suppressed or footnoted. The imputation rate is not an explicit indicator of the potential error in published figures due to nonresponse, because the actual yearly movements for nonrespondents may or may not closely agree with the imputed movements. The range of difference between the actual and imputed figures is assumed to be small. The degree of uncertainty regarding the accuracy of the published data increases as the percentage of imputation increases. Figures with imputation rates above 10 percent should be used with caution.

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Data Revisions

Statistics for previous years may be revised as the result of corrected figures from respondents, late reports for which imputations were originally made, or other corrections. Data that have been revised by more than 5 percent from previously published data are indicated by footnotes.

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The Census Bureau collects the CIR data under the authority of Title 13, United States Code, which specifies that the information can only be used for statistical purposes and cannot be published or released in any manner that would identify a person, household, or establishment. "D" indicates that data in the cell have been suppressed to avoid disclosure of information pertaining to individual companies.

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Current Industrial Reports | (301) 763-4673 |  Last Revised: September 03, 2009