The Business Expenses Survey (BES) was created originally to compile statistics on business operating expenses for Retail Trade, Wholesale Trade, and Service Industries. Expense data are key components of the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) input-output (I-O) accounts, which are a critical element in the calculation of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Prior to 2003, the BES was conducted quinquenially by a dedicated staff within the Census Bureau. Starting in 2003, the Service Annual Survey (SAS) began collecting selected expense items on their annual form. In 2004, Census and BEA formed a joint team, called the Core Expenses Group (CEG) to evaluate the collection of expense items across the many Census programs. The result of this team effort was a core set of expenses that have been collected on an annual basis since 2005 by the SAS and the Annual Survey of Manufacturers (ASM), and on a quinquennial basis by the Annual Retail Trade Survey (ARTS), Annual Wholesale Trade Survey (AWTS), and the Economic Census for Manufacturing, Construction, and Mining.
Expense data for all sectors except Agriculture and Public Administration are available across four separate annual surveys and the quinquennial economic census. The economic census occurs in years ending in 2 and 7. Because the Annual Survey of Manufactures is not conducted in census years, expense data for manufacturing is included in the economic census. Additionally detailed expense data is available for all covered sectors. Detailed expense data is compiled on a yearly basis for SAS while all other censuses and surveys compile data on a five year basis. To learn more about each survey, including sector coverage, visit the About the Survey page. A break out of what's covered where can be found below.