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Purpose: To provide periodic national estimates on operating expenses for merchant wholesale, retail trade, and selected service industries. The United States Code, Title 13, authorizes this survey as part of the Economic Census and provides for mandatory responses.
Coverage: Firms and legal entities classified in the North American Industries Classification System (NAICS) as wholesale merchants (2002 NAICS Sector 42), retail trade (2002 NAICS Sector 44-45), accommodation and food (2002 NAICS Sector 72), and selected service industries (most of 1997 NAICS Sectors 48, 49, 51, 52, 53, 54, 56, 61, 62, 71, and 81). For the first time, the 2002 BES included coverage of finance, insurance, real estate and selected transportation industries. However, the data do not meet Census Bureau quality standards and are not presented here.
Content: Data are collected on operating expenses including payroll and fringe benefits, contract labor costs, taxes and license fees, packaging and containers, transportation and warehousing services, depreciation and amortization charges, software and other computer expenses, communications services, computer and other supplies, office supplies, repair and maintenance expenses, lease and rental payments, printing, utilities, advertising, accounting, insurance, management and consulting services and legal services.
Frequency: Every 5 years since 1958, for years ending in "2" and "7." Firms are contacted early in the year following the reporting period. Data are requested for activities taking place during the census calendar year.
Methods: A mail-out/mail-back survey of 95,000 firms and Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) selected in samples for the Service Annual Survey; the Annual Trade Survey; and the Annual Retail Trade Survey. EINs may represent one or more establishments, and firms may have one or more EINs. Samples for each of the component programs are stratified probability samples of employer businesses drawn after the preceding 5-year censuses, supplemented by administrative records for nonemployers in retail trade and selected service industries. Samples are revised to reflect known changes in business and organization structure.
National estimates of operating expenses are developed to supplement 5-year census data on sales and revenue. Estimates are developed from the summation of weighted information adjusted by a process that benchmarks them to the corresponding sector data in the Economic Census. The weights are the inverse of the probability of selection (or sampling rate) of sampling units in the survey
Products: Data are published on the Internet 3 to 4 years after the census year with 3-, 4-, and 5- digit industry detail. For 2002, the Industry Series of the Economic Census includes the Business Expenses report, covering expenses data compiled in the Business Expenses Survey. For 1997, the Business Expenses report was issued on the Internet as part of the Company Statistics series. Prior to 1997, wholesale and retail reports were published in the wholesale and retail Subject Series, Measures of Value Produced, Capital Expenditures, Depreciable Assets, and Operating Expenses; the service report was published in the census of service industries Subject Series, Capital Expenditures, Depreciable Assets, and Operating Expenses.
Data covering wholesale trade, retail trade, and accommodation and food industries are presented on a 2002 NAICS basis, and all other covered industries are presented on a 1997 NAICS basis.
Uses: The Bureau of Economic Analysis uses the estimates for benchmarking the national income and product accounts, and input-output tables. The Department of Health and Human Services uses the expense estimates to forecast rising medical costs.
Market research firms use the estimates for market research and analysis. Educators and trade and professional associations use the estimates for trade analysis.
Special Features: For the industries covered for 2002, the Business Expenses Report is the most comprehensive source of periodic national industry statistics on major economic inputs by type.