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Economic Census


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Different Data Sources

Industry Comparability

Industry detail across censuses and surveys do not always match.

For example, the 2008-2010 Annual Survey of Manufactures (ASM) and the 2007 Economic Census were both published on a 2007 North American Industry Classification System (2007 NAICS) basis.

However, in the ASM, many "real" NAICS codes are combined into "pseudo" NAICS codes. This substantially impacts the comparability of the data.

To confirm that data are comparable, data users need to review:

  • the industry detail published to understand the contents of each NAICS code before making data comparisons. In American FactFinder, click on the "Table Notes" button on the top-right of the table to find this text.

Industry Coverage Comparability

Coverage of industries published across censuses and surveys do not always match.

For example, agriculture is included in County Business Patterns but not the economic census.

To confirm that the higher-level totals are comparable, data users need to review:

  • the industry detail published. In American FactFinder, click on the "Table Notes" button on the top-right of the table to find this text.

Business Coverage Comparability

Types of businesses included in one survey do not always match businesses included in another.

For example, nonemployers AND employers are included in the Economic Census of Island Areas data for American Samoa but employers only for the other island areas.

To confirm that data are comparable, data users need to review:

  • the Introductory and Methodology text. In American FactFinder, click on the "i" button to the right of the table title to find this text.

Source of Raw Data

Some published data from censuses and surveys are a combination of collected data and administrative data, while others solely use administrative data as their source.

Data users need to understand:

  • the limitations of administrative versus collected data and
  • administrative data are often reviewed differently than data collected by Census Bureau.

Read more in the Methodology section.

Report Release Timing

Similar data are often published for the same time period but released significant times apart.

For example, the 2007 County Business Patterns was published in July 2009 while the 2007 Economic Census was published from 2009 to 2011.

Data users need to understand:

  • that often the most recently-released data are the “better” data, as it has gone through additional review that the prior-released data may not have gone through.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Economic Planning and Coordination Division | 1-877-790-1876 | Last Revised: September 29, 2014