Answers -- Economic Programs FAQ

How can I find out about...


FAQ by Subject

International Trade
Economic Research
Economy-wide Programs

How can I find out about...

1. What Economic data does the Census Bureau produce?
2. What is the Census Bureau doing to reduce business respondents' burden?
3. How can I report to the Census Bureau electronically?
4. What is the current organizational structure within the Census Bureau's Economic Directorate?
5. Business name and address lists?
6. Business birth and deaths?
7. Industry classifications, tariff codes, geographic classifications?
8. Tabulations of industries or areas that I specify?
9. Information for small businesses? -- about small businesses?
10. Businesses owned by minorities? -- by women?
11. Home-based businesses?
12. Prices, unemployment, and employment?
13. Information about our EXTRACT Software?

1. What economic data does the Census Bureau produce?

Census Bureau economic programs produce, summarize and analyze data for virtually all U.S. businesses and government entities. We take complete censuses of the U.S. economy every 5 years, for years ending in "2" and "7", conduct some 125 more current survey and administrative data programs; compile official export, import and trade deficit statistics; and oversee more than 100 full and part-time researchers of economic microdata.

2. What is the Census Bureau doing to reduce business reporting burden?

We recognize that producing useful economic statistics imposes some costs on participating business and other respondents, and we work hard to minimize that burden. In particular, we review proposed information requests to be sure that all questions and participants are really needed; allow use of reasonable estimates where supporting records are not readily available; provide technical assistance and extensions of time in response to participant requests; and are pursuing 3 broader strategies to further reduce business reporting burden. They are:

3. How can I report my business data for a Census Bureau survey electronically?

4. What is the current structure of the Economic Directorate, to learn more about Census Economic activities?

5. How can I get a list of business names and addresses?

All information about businesses and individuals in census reports is strictly confidential, including lists of participants. The law (Title 13, U.S. code) protects the confidentiality of all information that businesses and individuals report to the Census Bureau, as well as records of Census filings that may be retained in personal records. Census Bureau employees are subject to fines of up to $5,000 and imprisonment up to 5 years for violating confidentiality.

There are private sources of businesses by listed by industry and geography, available in print, on CD-ROM, and some even on the internet. In addition, 10K reports that companies file with the Securities and Exchange Commission are public documents. However, none of these alternative resources contain any Census Bureau information.

6. How can I find out about business birth and deaths?

The Standard Statistical Establishment List (SSEL) is the Census Bureau's ongoing register of businesses and business locations in the U.S. Since 1989, we have maintained a longitudinal link between businesses and locations, which permits observations of new business formations and failures of existing businesses. The data show a dynamic environment where entrepreneurship, eg.- forming new businesses and expanding existing ones, is the engine that produces new jobs. Sample tabulations are available from this database.

7. Where can I find a list of industry classifications? Tariff codes? Geographic classifications?

Businesses and business locations are classified using the 1987 Standard Industrial Classifications. Beginning with the 1997 Economic Census, industry activity will be classified using the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). on this new classification system.[../epcd/naics]

The Census Bureau classifies the location of business establishments and households using the Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) codes, administered by the Office of Management and Budget. A list of FIPS codes, and county definitions for metropolitan areas are available.

8. How can I request specialized tabulations, such as for individual industries or geographic areas?

Although all information about businesses and individuals is strictly confidential, protected under Title 13 confidentiality restrictions, the Census Bureau does provide a wealth of standard reports, CD-ROMs, computer files, etc. In addition, the Bureau will also work with outside users on a cost reimbursable basis to develop specialized summarized tabulations from internal data (such as the SSEL business name register). If interested, please either contact staff highlighted within our specific Internet offerings or through our FEEDBACK buttons.

9. Where can I find information for and about small businesses?

Small businesses need information about the entire US economy -- because they are part of it and because they compete with all firms in their industry regardless of size. A credible business plan should incorporate economic and demographic data to define market size, growth potential, and competition now and future.

Small businesses are described in several Census Bureau reports; typically these reports array establishment or firm data by size (number of establishments or value of output).

For a comprehensive view of businesses in the entire US economy, see:

10. What can the Census Bureau tell me about businesses owned by minorities? -- by women?

11. Where can I find out about home-based businesses?

Nearly half of the 17 million sole proprietorships, partnerships, and subchapter S corporations in the United States were home-based, according to the 1992 Characteristics of Business Owners Survey. The full report and tabulations show owner and business characteristics by race, ethnicity, gender, kind of business, receipts size, employment size, and legal form of organization.

12. Where can I find price or unemployment/employment information?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is the Federal Government's official source of price, wage, and employment/unemployment data.

Census Bureau reports contain totals of employment in context of profiles of industry activity (eg, along with measures of output, products/services provided, size, etc.)

Some census reports provide quantity and value information, from which an average price can be inferred, or provide workers, hours, and wages, from which an average salary or hourly wage can be inferred. However these averages should not be used in place of reference values provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

13. Where can I get more information about EXTRACT, our general purpose data display and extraction system for DBase formatted CD-Roms?