Economic Census of Island Areas

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About the Economic Census of Puerto Rico


The Economic Census's main goal is to provide periodic comprehensive data on Puerto Rico's economic activity and structure. The United States Code, Title 13, authorizes this census and makes responding mandatory. The Government of Puerto Rico assists with the census.


The census covers the following sectors as defined in the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS):

21 Mining
22 Utilities
23 Construction
31-33 Manufacturing
42- Wholesale Trade
44-45 Retail Trade
48-49 Transportation and Warehousing
51 Information
52 Finance and Insurance
53 Real Estate and Rental and Leasing
54 Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
55 Management of Companies and Enterprises
56 Administrative and Support, Waste Management and Remediation Services
61 Educational Services
62 Health Care and Social Assistance
71 Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation
72 Accommodation and Food Services
81 Other Services (except Public Administration)

This scope is equivalent to that of the stateside economic census. The 2002 Economic Census was the first census conducted based on NAICS; prior censuses used the Standard Industrial Classification System.

Census forms are mailed to all establishments within the scope of the census that have annual payroll.


All establishments are required to provide data on total sales, receipts or revenue, kind of business, legal form of organization, employment, annual and first quarter payroll, and class of customer. Hotels, and other lodging places report additional data on sources of receipts and number of accommodations. Data are published for island, planning regions (applicable to wholesale trade, retail trade, and services sectors), metropolitan areas (applicable to manufacturing and construction), and municipio (applicable to all sectors (county equivalent). General statistics by kind of business are presented at the following levels of detail:

  • 2- through 5-digit NAICS - total of the island and the planning regions
  • 2- and 3-digit NAICS - metropolitan areas for the manufacturing sector
  • 2-digit NAICS - metropolitan areas for construction
  • 2-digit NAICS - municipio for wholesale, manufacturing, and construction
  • 2- through 4-digits - municipio for retail trade and services sectors


The Economic Census is conducted every 5 years, for years ending in "2" and "7." The Census of Manufacturers began in 1909. The censuses of retail trade, wholesale trade, and some service industries began in 1939. The census of construction began in 1967. Reported data are for activity taking place throughout the census year.


Censuses are conducted using the mailout/mailback methodology. A Memorandum of Agreement between the Census Bureau and the Government of Puerto Rico outlines the conditions under which the censuses are conducted. The Government of Puerto Rico provides input to the census content and helps with publicity.


Census products summarize data by kind of business for Puerto Rico and its districts. Tabulations include statistics on the number of establishments; sales, receipts or revenue, annual payroll, first quarter payroll, employment, fringe benefits, capital expenditures, depreciation charges, and other variables. Tabulations also summarize basic information by industry and geographic area, by sales size category, by employment size category, industry concentration, items / services sold, by legal form of organization, and other dimensions. All of these tabulations are available through American FactFinder. Separate reports are issued for manufacturing, construction, and all other industries.


The Bureau of Economic Analysis will use the data from the Economic Census to calculate the Gross Island Product for 2012.

The Government of Puerto Rico uses census data to benchmark and weight indexes of industrial production and productivity, and to calculate Puerto Rico's gross product. The municipal governments use census data to assess business activities within their jurisdiction and to estimate the size and composition of economic sectors. The private sector uses the data to forecast general economic conditions.

The Census Bureau, in consultation with the Puerto Rico Planning Board, carefully reviews the content of the questionnaires to reflect the social and economic characteristics of Puerto Rico. Over the years, the Census Bureau has added questions/items specifically tailored to Puerto Rico data needs. Examples of questions designed for Puerto Rico are:

  • Type of corporation
  • Value of products shipped and contract work performed by customer location
  • Distribution of shipments and contract work performed for customers in Puerto Rico by class of customers
  • Shopping center or mall location for retail trade and selected service establishments
  • Participation of the establishments in the Puerto Rico Tourist Incentive Act

Wording of standard questions has also been modified on occasion to assist in the collection of relevant information for Puerto Rico.


The Economic Census provides the only comprehensive source of consistent and comparable economic data available for Puerto Rico

Source: U.S. Census Bureau   |   Economic Census of Island Areas   |   (301) 763-3314 or Email  |  Last Revised: October 25, 2012