The Construction sector (sector 23) comprises establishments primarily engaged in the construction of buildings or engineering projects (e.g., highways and utility systems). Establishments primarily engaged in the preparation of sites for new construction and establishments primarily engaged in subdividing land for sale, as building sites also are included in this sector.

Construction work done may include new work, additions, alterations, or maintenance and repairs. Activities of these establishments generally are managed at a fixed place of business, but they usually perform construction activities at multiple project sites. Production responsibilities for establishments in this sector are usually specified in (1) contracts with the owners of construction projects (prime contracts) or (2) contracts with other construction establishments (subcontracts).

Establishments primarily engaged in contracts that include responsibility for all aspects of individual construction projects are commonly known as general contractors, but also may be known as design-builders, construction managers, turnkey contractors, or (in cases where two or more establishments jointly secure a general contract) joint-venture contractors. Construction managers that provide oversight and scheduling only (i.e., agency) as well as construction managers that are responsible for the entire project (i.e., at risk) are included as general contractor type establishments. Establishments of the “general contractor type” frequently arrange construction of separate parts of their projects through subcontracts with other construction establishments.

Establishments primarily engaged in activities to produce a specific component (e.g., masonry, painting, and electrical work) of a construction project are commonly known as specialty trade contractors. Activities of specialty trade contractors are usually subcontracted from other construction establishments but, especially in remodeling and repair construction, the work may be done directly for the owner of the property.

Establishments primarily engaged in activities to construct buildings to be sold on sites that they own are known as operative builders, but also may be known as speculative builders or merchant builders. Operative builders produce buildings in a manner similar to general contractors, but their production processes also include site acquisition and securing of financial backing. Operative builders are most often associated with the construction of residential buildings. Like general contractors, they may subcontract all or part of the actual construction work on their buildings.

There are substantial differences in the types of equipment, work force skills, and other inputs required by establishments in this sector. To highlight these differences and variations in the underlying production functions, this sector is divided into three subsectors.

Subsector 236, Construction of Buildings, comprises establishments of the general contractor type and operative builders involved in the construction of buildings. Subsector 237, Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction, comprises establishments involved in the construction of engineering projects. Subsector 238, Specialty Trade Contractors, comprises establishments engaged in specialty trade activities generally needed in the construction of all types of buildings.

Exclusions. Force account construction is construction work performed by an enterprise primarily engaged in some business other than construction for its own account and use, using employees of the enterprise. This activity is not included in the construction sector unless the construction work performed is the primary activity of a separate establishment of the enterprise. The installation and the ongoing repair and maintenance of telecommunications and utility networks is excluded from construction when the establishments performing the work are not independent contractors. Although a growing proportion of this work is subcontracted to independent contractors in the Construction Sector, the operating units of telecommunications and utility companies performing this work are included with the telecommunications or utility activities.

The tabulations for this sector do not include central administrative offices, warehouses, or other establishments that serve construction establishments within the same organization. Data for such establishments are classified according to the nature of the service they provide. For example, separate headquarters establishments are reported in NAICS Sector 55, Management of Companies and Enterprises.

The reports described below exclude establishments of firms with no paid employees. These “nonemployers,” typically self-employed individuals or partnerships operating businesses that they have not chosen to incorporate, are reported separately in Nonemployer Statistics. The contribution of nonemployers, relatively large for this sector, may be examined at

Definitions. Industry categories are defined in Appendix B, NAICS Codes, Titles, and Descriptions. Other terms are defined in Appendix A, Explanation of Terms.


The following reports provide statistics on this sector.

Industry Series. There are 31 reports, each covering a single NAICS industry (six-digit code). These reports include such statistics as number of establishments, employment, payroll, value added by construction, cost of materials, value of construction work, value of business done, capital expenditures, etc. The industry reports also include selected statistics for states. While most of the state data in the industry series reports are by physical location of the establishment, some data are available by reported location of the construction work. The data in industry reports are preliminary and subject to change in the following reports.

Geographic Area Series. There are 51 separate reports, one for each state and the District of Columbia. Each state report present similar statistics at the “all construction” level for each state.

Subject Series:

Other reports. Data for this sector are also included in reports with multisector coverage, including Nonemployer Statistics, Comparative Statistics, Bridge Between 2002 NAICS and 1997 NAICS, Business Expenses, and the Survey of Business Owners reports.


  1. The United States as a whole.
  2. States and the District of Columbia.
  3. Census regions.The regions are made up of groups of states as follows:
    1. Northeast region: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont
    2. Midwest region: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin
    3. South region: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia
    4. West region: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming


All dollar values presented are expressed in current dollars; i.e., 2002 data are expressed in 2002 dollars, and 1997 data, in 1997 dollars. Consequently, when making comparisons with prior years, users of the data should consider the changes in prices that have occurred.

All dollar values are shown in thousands of dollars.


Both the 2002 Economic Census and the 1997 Economic Census present data based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). There were substantial revisions made to the entire construction sector, for 2002. These changes are:

  1. Each subsector has been reclassified in 2002 to:
    236Construction of Buildings
    237Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction
    238Specialty Trade Contractors
  2. Adopted several mining industries:
    1. oil and gas pipeline and related structures construction, now in Industry 237120
    2. site preparation and related construction activities on a contract or fee basis, now in Industry 238910.

More detailed information of NAICS changes from 1997 to 2002, may be examined at

In addition, there have been several additional data tables added, which did not exist in 1997. These tables for 2002 include e-commerce value of business done and leased and nonleased detail employment statistics by subsectors. Also included is housing starts by single NAICS industry (six-digit code).


All data compiled for this sector are subject to nonsampling errors. Nonsampling errors can be attributed to many sources: inability to identify all cases in the actual universe; definition and classification difficulties; differences in the interpretation of questions; errors in recording or coding the data obtained; and other errors of collection, response, coverage, processing, and estimation for missing or misreported data.

No direct measurement of these effects has been obtained except for estimation for missing or misreported data, as by the percentages shown in the tables. Precautionary steps were taken in all phases of the collection, processing, and tabulation of the data in an effort to minimize the effects of nonsampling errors. More information on the reliability of the data is included in Appendix C, Methodology.


In accordance with federal law governing census reports (Title 13 of the United States Code), no data are published that would disclose the operations of an individual establishment or company. However, the number of establishments in a specific industry or geographic area is not considered a disclosure; therefore, this information may be released even though other information is withheld. Techniques employed to limit disclosure are discussed at


The U.S. Census Bureauís monthly Construction Reports, Series C30, Value of New Construction Put in Place contain data related to construction sector census data. The main difference is that the C30 series covers all new construction put in place without regard to who is performing the construction activity. The construction sector census data covers both new construction and maintenance and repair work done by establishments classified in the construction industries. Significant amounts of construction are done by establishments classified outside of construction (real estate, manufacturing, utilities, and communications, for example), as both “force account” construction and construction done for others. In addition, the C30 series includes construction-related expenses such as architectural and engineering costs and the costs of materials supplied by owners that are normally not reflected in construction sector census data.

Data contained in the 2002 construction sector may also differ from industry data in Employment and Earnings Statistics, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Statistics of Income, published by the Internal Revenue Service. These differences arise from varying definitions of scope, coverage, timing, classification, and methodology.

In additon, the County Business Patterns program offers annual statistics on the number of establishments, employment, and payroll classified by industry within each county, and Statistics of U.S. Businesses provides annual statistics classified by the employment size of the enterprise, further classified by industry for the United States, and by broader categories for states and metropolitan areas.


Questions about these data may be directed to the U.S. Census Bureau, Manufacturing & Construction Division, Information Services Center, 301-763-4673 or


The following abbreviations and symbols are used with these data:

AStandard error of 100 percent or more
DWithheld to avoid disclosing data of individual companies; data are included in higher level totals
FExceeds 100 percent because data include establishments with payroll exceeding revenue
NNot available or not comparable
SWithheld because estimates did not meet publication standards
XNot applicable
ZLess than half the unit shown
a0 to 19 employees
b20 to 99 employees
c100 to 249 employees
e250 to 499 employees
f500 to 999 employees
g1,000 to 2,499 employees
h2,500 to 4,999 employees
i5,000 to 9,999 employees
j10,000 to 24,999 employees
k25,000 to 49,999 employees
l50,000 to 99,999 employees
m100,000 employees or more
p10 to 19 percent estimated
q20 to 29 percent estimated
sSampling error exceeds 40 percent
nskNot specified by kind
Represents zero (page image/print only)
(CC)Consolidated city
(IC)Independent city