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Nonemployer Statistics

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To provide a database of statistics on women-, minority- and majority-owned businesses, and support research on issues of entrepreneurship and minority business ownership. The United States Code, Titles 13 and 26, authorizes this data program. The Minority Business Development Agency and Small Business Administration partially fund the program and continuing research.


CBO businesses have filed Internal Revenue Service tax forms for sole proprietorships or the self-employed (Form 1040, schedule C), partnerships (Form 1065), or subchapter S corporations (Form 1120S); and operate in private nonagricultural sectors of the economy. Minority- and women-owned firms are at least one-half owned by minorities or women. Sampled businesses include minority and non-minority owners of businesses, and activities of their businesses, in the 1987 and 1982 Characteristics of Business Owners (CBO) surveys.


Two files are created for each CBO survey year, one for business owners and one for businesses. Data for owners include personal characteristics (such as gender, age, race, and education), business experience, and related firm data (such as annual payroll, net income, sources of capital, customer base, business age, and firm survival). Data for businesses include payroll identification codes, employment, SIC classification, number of owners, firm owners' ethnicity and gender. For each year, the files for owners and businesses can be matched.


CBO surveys and databases follow the economic censuses and related surveys and are for census years, years ending in "2" and "7." CBO survey results are available about 4 years after each census year, and CBO databases are available within 1 year after the survey results. Data has been collected every 5 years since 1982..


A compilation of data for the 125,000 business owners and businesses selected for the CBO survey; supplemented by data for firms collected in separate surveys of minority-owned business enterprises and women-owned businesses (the SMOBE and WOB surveys). CBO surveys consist of 5 panels of Black-, Hispanic-, other minority-, women- and nonminority male-owned firms. Owners of selected firms receive a mail-out/mail-back survey form, and mail survey data are linked with SMOBE and WOB data for firms (which included some data from Federal tax records).

CBO database information is confidential and all research is conducted by permanent and specially sworn Census Bureau employees. Projects using the data are selected with extensive policy and professional consultation. All current research is done at the Center for Economic Studies (CES) in Suitland, Maryland, or at the Boston Research Data Center (additional locations are under consideration).


The CES Discussion Paper series periodically presents working papers based on CBO database research. The series began in 1988 and current titles include Analysis of Small Business Size and Rate of Discontinuance, Self-Employment Trends Among Mexican Americans, and Commercial Bank Lending Practices and the Development of Black-Owned Construction Companies. The database is described in the title, The Characteristics of Business Owners Database. Most papers are revised and submitted for journal or commercial publication.

Special tabulations of aggregated data from the CBO database are prepared in response to specific requests and on a reimbursable basis.


The data are used to research issues of entrepreneurship and the status of minority and women business owners. The Minority Business Development Agency has sponsored research on how personal characteristics affect business success, and whether lending and other institutions treat minority owners different from other owners. The National Science Foundation has sponsored research on how the characteristics of persons who start businesses differ from those of persons who purchase businesses. The Small Business Administration has sponsored research on changes in self-employment between 1982 and 1987 for major demographic groupings.


Provides data on survival rates, and conditions of success and failure, for minority-and nonminority male-owned businesses.


Characteristics of Business Owners Survey (CBO)




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