Skip Header

We are hiring thousands of people for the 2020 Census. Click to learn more and apply.

Economic Census: Measuring America’s Ever-Changing Economy

Business and Economy

Economic Census: Measuring America’s Ever-Changing Economy

Business and Economy

Questions Change As Different Businesses Emerge

Component ID: #ti1943851612

When the growth in solar, wind and other alternative energy sources began to surge, the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 Economic Census quickly adapted its survey to collect and publish data on these industries. For the 2017 Economic Census, currently underway, the Census Bureau once again adjusted its survey to capture data on new businesses and new ways of doing business.

Increasingly, businesses are providing goods and services that go beyond their traditional ones. For example, grocery stores that also sell gasoline are becoming more popular with consumers for convenience reasons.

Component ID: #ti910063760

For the 2017 Economic Census, the Census Bureau is addressing this challenge by being the first program to implement the North American Product Classification System (NAPCS).

Component ID: #ti1920235568

Researchers want to measure the sales of specific and all-inclusive goods and services across business types to understand these changes, but the way these products were collected as “Product Lines” made this difficult.

For the 2017 Economic Census, the Census Bureau is addressing this challenge by being the first program to implement the North American Product Classification System (NAPCS).

This new classification system consistently tracks goods and services across business types to more accurately detail what is produced and sold within each industry. This will make comparing these products and services across business types, or industries, much easier.

The Census Bureau conducts over 30 monthly, quarterly and annual business surveys that measure the U.S. economy, but the largest of these programs by far is the economic census. It is the benchmark for nearly all of the other economic surveys and helps ensure the accuracy of those programs.

The economic census is not only a baseline survey, but it also serves as a key input to other key economic indicators, such as the gross domestic product (GDP). It is updated each cycle to continually measure the ever-changing U.S. economy.

Component ID: #ti331376215

”The sooner businesses report, the sooner we can begin reviewing data to meet our publication dates.”

— Kimberly Moore, Chief of the Economy-Wide Statistics Division, Census Bureau.

Component ID: #ti1387593246

The economic census helps measure emerging industries and waning types of businesses. It collects data on new technologies and it helps track new and emerging techniques that businesses across sectors are now employing in their locations.

In order to capture emerging types of businesses, the economic census is the first program at the Census Bureau to implement changes to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).

NAICS is updated every five years (the same years the economic census is conducted). These updates include new, separately recognized industries, industry consolidations and definition changes, and industries that are no longer recognized separately because they are in decline.

For example, the 2012 Economic Census was the first program at the Census Bureau to publish data on the rapidly growing Solar, Wind, Geothermal and Biomass Electric Power Generation industries. In 2016, there were 153 Solar Power Generation businesses that employed 1,564 employees, and 233 Wind Power businesses that employed 3,148 employees.

To help measure new technologies and techniques employed by U.S. businesses, the questions asked of businesses have changed to capture information on these new techniques.

For example, Census Bureau analysts noticed a change in how manufacturers reported their employment and what types of employees were being counted. Businesses were reporting lower employment and payroll data and higher contract expenses than expected.

After discussions with industry and association experts, Census Bureau staff discovered the emerging trend of “leased employees.”

Especially popular with highly seasonal manufacturers, this technique allows businesses to maintain lower levels of full-time, yearlong employees and bring on additional staff (as leased employees) during busy times. In response, a question was added to our surveys that asks businesses to report these leased employees.

Data were published that measure this. In 2016, in the Annual Survey of Manufacturers (ASM), manufacturing establishments reported nearly $35.5 billion in expenses for temporary staff and leased employees, compared to $643.4 billion in annual payroll for actual employees.

Of course, none of these changes to the economic census questions would be possible without input from U.S. businesses, business associations and organizations, and data users. The Census Bureau conducts extensive cognitive testing with its stakeholders to ensure the new data is reportable by businesses and usable for statistical purposes.

“We also closely review all proposed question changes to ensure data accuracy, while maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of businesses and the data we collect,” said Kimberly Moore, Chief of the Economy-Wide Statistics Division.

As businesses across the U.S. already know, collection of the data for the 2017 Economic Census has begun and businesses are encouraged to complete the forms for their locations as soon as possible. The response deadline has been extended until June 19. For questions and more information about how to report, see our economic census website or call 800-233-6136.

“The sooner businesses report, the sooner we can begin reviewing data to meet our publication dates,” Moore said.

Component ID: #ti1820640116


Andrew W. Hait is a Survey Statistician/Economist at the Census Bureau.


Component ID: #ti1224351925

 

About

America Counts tells the stories behind the numbers in a new inviting way. We feature stories on various topics such as families, housing, employment, business, education, the economy, emergency preparedness, and population. Contact our Public Information Office for media inquiries or interviews.

 

All of Our Content

The entire list of stories is available to you.

Use the hashtag #AmericaCounts to share this story on social media.

 

This story was posted in: Business and Economy


Tags: Business and Economy
X
  Is this page helpful?
Thumbs Up Image Yes    Thumbs Down Image No
X
Comments or suggestions?
No, thanks
255 characters remaining
X
Thank you for your feedback.
Comments or suggestions?
Back to Header