Guide to the
2002 Economic Census
A much more detailed examination of census methodology as employed
in the 1997 Economic Census is presented in the
History of the Economic Census.
For most sectors, large- and medium-size firms, plus all firms known to operate
more than one establishment, are sent questionnaires to be completed and returned
to the Census Bureau by mail. For most very small firms, data from existing
administrative records of other Federal agencies are used instead. These records
provide basic information on location, kind of business, sales, payroll, number
of employees, and legal form of organization.
Firms in the 2002 Economic Census are divided into the mail universe and nonmail
universe. The coverage of and the method of obtaining census information from
each are described below:
- The mail universe consists of firms for which information is obtained by
means of a mail canvass and includes:
- Large employers, i.e., all multiestablishment firms, and all employer
firms with payroll above a specified cutoff. (The term ''employers'' refers
to firms with one or more paid employees at any time during 2002 as shown
in the active administrative records of other Federal agencies.)
- A sample of small employers, i.e., single-establishment firms with payroll
below a specified cutoff in classifications for which specialized data precludes
reliance solely on administrative records sources.
- The nonmail universe consists of firms that are not required to file a
regular census return and includes:
- Selected small employers, i.e., single-establishment firms with payroll
below a specified cutoff. Although the payroll cutoff varies by kind of
business, small employers in the nonmail universe generally include firms
with less than 10 employees and represented about 10 percent of total
sales of establishments covered in the census. Data on sales, payroll,
and employment for small employers in the nonmail universe are derived
or estimated from administrative records of other Federal agencies.
- All nonemployers, i.e., all firms with no paid employees during 2002.
Sales information for these firms is obtained from administrative records
of other Federal agencies. Although consisting of many firms, nonemployers
account for less than 10-percent of total sales of all establishments
covered in the census. The census includes only those nonemployer firms
which report a sales volume of $1,000 or more during 2002. Establishments
with no paid employees are excluded as in previous censuses. Data for
nonemployers are not included in most Economic Census reports, but are
released in the annual Nonemployer Statistics series.
INDUSTRY CLASSIFICATION OF ESTABLISHMENTS
The classifications for all establishments are based on the North American
Industry Classification System United States, 2002 (NAICS) manual. The
2002 edition of this manual represents a relatively minor revision of
the 1997 NAICS, when compared to the very substantial change between 1997
NAICS and the 1987 Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system. Appendix
A of the 2002 NAICS manual notes the comparability between the 1997 NAICS
and 2002 NAICS classification systems.
The method of assigning classifications and the level of detail at which
establishments are classified differs between the mail and nonmail universe,
- The mail universe. Establishments in the mail universe
are classified on the basis of their self-designation, sales of merchandise
lines, and other industry-specific inquiries.
- The nonmail universe. Selected small employers are classified
on the basis of the most current kind-of- business classification available
from one of the Census Bureau's current sample surveys or the 1997 Economic
Census. Otherwise, the classification is obtained from administrative records
of other Federal agencies. If the census or administrative record classifications
prove inadequate (none corresponded to a 2002 Economic Census classification
in the detail required for employers), the firm is sent a brief inquiry requesting
information necessary to assign a kind-of-business code.
Nonemployers are classified on the basis of information obtained from administrative
records of other Federal agencies.
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