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County Business Patterns

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Abbreviations and Symbols

The following abbreviations and symbols are used with County Business Patterns data:

D Withheld to avoid disclosing data for individual companies; data are included in higher level totals
G Low noise infusion
H Medium noise infusion
S Withheld because estimate did not meet publication standards
N Not available or not comparable
X Not applicable
a 0 to 19 employees
b 20 to 99 employees
c 100 to 249 employees
e 250 to 499 employees
f 500 to 999 employees
g 1,000 to 2,499 employees
h 2,500 to 4,999 employees
i 5,000 to 9,999 employees
j 10,000 to 24,999 employees
k 25,000 to 49,999 employees
l 50,000 to 99,999 employees
m 100,000 employees or more

Company or Enterprise

A company (or "enterprise") is comprised of all the establishments that operate under the ownership or control of a single organization. A company may be a business, service, or membership organization; consist of one or several establishments; and operate at one or several locations. It includes all subsidiary organizations, all establishments that are majority-owned by the company or any subsidiary, and all the establishments that can be directed or managed by the company or any subsidiary.

A company may have one or many establishments. If the company operated at different physical locations, even if the individual locations were producing the same line of goods, a separate report was requested for each location. If the company operated in two or more distinct lines of manufacturing at the same location, a separate report was requested for each activity.

For statistics at the company level, refer to the Statistics of U.S. Businesses.

Employment Size Class

Numbers of establishments by employment size class is determined by paid employment in the mid-March pay period. Employment size class is derived from the original employment value before noise is applied. This may cause a slight difference between the tabulated total establishment value and the value shown for an employment size class.

The size group “1 to 4” includes establishments that did not report any paid employees in the mid-March pay period but paid wages to at least one employee at some time during the year.


An establishment is a single physical location at which business is conducted or services or industrial operations are performed. It is not necessarily identical with a company or enterprise, which may consist of one or more establishments. When two or more activities are carried on at a single location under a single ownership, all activities generally are grouped together as a single establishment. The entire establishment is classified on the basis of its major activity and all data are included in that classification.

Establishment counts represent the number of locations with paid employees any time during the year. This series excludes government establishments except for wholesale liquor establishments (NAICS 4248), retail liquor stores (NAICS 44531), Federally-chartered savings institutions (NAICS 522120), Federally-chartered credit unions (NAICS 522130), and hospitals (NAICS 622).

Legal Form of Organization (LFO)

The Legal Form of Organization is derived from administrative records data sources. The following Legal Forms of Organization are included in this report.

  • Corporation - An incorporated business that is granted a charter recognizing it as a separate legal entity having its own privileges, and liabilities distinct from those of its members. 
  • S-Corporation  - A form of corporation where the entity does not pay any federal income taxes. The corporation's income or losses are divided among and passed to its shareholders. The shareholders must then report the income or loss on their own individual income tax returns. 
  • Sole Proprietorships - An unincorporated business with a sole owner.
  • Partnership - An unincorporated business where two or more persons join to carry on a trade or business with each having a shared financial interest in the business.
  • Non-profit - An organization that does not distribute surplus funds to its owners or shareholders, but instead uses surplus funds to help pursue its goals. Most non-profit organizations are exempt from income taxes.
  • Government - A business that taxpayers primarily fund. Most government businesses are out of scope to this data series. Click this link for more information on in-scope government businesses.

Mid-March Employment

Paid employment consists of full- and part-time employees, including salaried officers and executives of corporations, who are on the payroll in the pay period including March 12. Included are employees on paid sick leave, holidays, and vacations; not included are sole proprietors and partners of unincorporated businesses.

Municipios and Other County Equivalents for Island Areas

The primary legal divisions of Puerto Rico are termed municipios. County Business Patterns publishes a municipio as the equivalent of a county in the United States. Districts and islands in American Samoa, municipalities in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, districts in Guam, and islands in the U.S. Virgin Islands are treated as an equivalent of a county in the United States.

North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)

The North American Classification System (NAICS) is the standard used by Federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for the purpose of collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data related to the U.S. business economy. For more information please refer to the NAICS website:


Payroll includes all forms of compensation, such as salaries, wages, commissions, dismissal pay, bonuses, vacation allowances, sick-leave pay, and employee contributions to qualified pension plans paid during the year to all employees. For corporations, payroll includes amounts paid to officers and executives; for unincorporated businesses, it does not include profit or other compensation of proprietors or partners. Payroll is reported before deductions for social security, income tax, insurance, union dues, etc. This definition of payroll is the same as that used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Form 941 as taxable Medicare Wages and Tips (even if not subject to income or FICA tax). First-quarter payroll consists of payroll during the January-to-March quarter.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | County Business Patterns | (301) 763-2580 |  Last Revised: April 14, 2015