Skip Main Navigation Skip To Navigation Content

Plant and Equipment Survey

Skip top of page navigation
You are here: About the SurveysMulti-Sector Programs › Plant and Equipment Survey

Replaced by the Investment Plans Survey in 1994, which was discontinued in 1996


Provided data on current spending and plans for new spending in the U.S. on business plant and equipment. The United States Code, Title 13, authorized this survey and provided for voluntary quarterly and mandatory annual responses.


Most private non-farm businesses; businesses classified in NAICS 21-23, 31-33, 42, 44-45, 48-49, 52-56, 61-62, 71-72, and 81 (except private households).


Basic data on spending for plant and equipment were collected for each quarter, with additional data obtained for the 3rd and 4th quarters. Quarterly data included actual expenditures for the prior quarter, and planned total spending for each of the next three quarters, expenditures for new facilities and the expansion or replacement of existing facilities. Additional 3rd and 4th quarter data included planned spending for the next year. In the 4th quarter, petroleum companies provide additional capital spending data. Annual data included total actual and planned expenditures, expenditures by type, and petroleum industry expenditures by function.


Data collection began at the end of each quarter and continued for about 8-10 weeks. Data were for activities taking place during the preceding calendar quarter or year. The Census Bureau conducted this survey after the second quarter of 1988; the Bureau of Economic Analysis conducted it for prior years. The Survey was conducted quarterly and annually, from 1947 through June 1994.


Formerly a mail-out/mail-back quarterly survey of 8,000 selected large companies, and a mail-out/mail-back annual survey of 7,000 additional companies in selected industries. The survey panels were benchmarked in 1982 and updated to represent changes in covered industries. The annual survey covered businesses in 4 minimally capital intensive industries--real estate, professional services, membership organizations and social services, and forestry, fishery and agricultural services.

From 1989 through 1995, a survey panel maintenance program was used to assess and improve industry coverage based on information from other censuses and surveys. Since 1991, companies not responding to voluntary quarterly survey requests received mandatory annual requests for comparable information.


Plant and Equipment Expenditures and Plans press releases were available after the end of each calendar quarter. Releases provided data on current-dollar expenditures by 2- and selected 3-digit SIC industry groups. The second quarter release included revisions for the previous year,and the fourth quarter release included annual petroleum industry expenditures by function, and expenditures by type.


The Bureau of Economic Analysis used the data in preparing estimates of non-residential fixed investment and industry capital stocks, and as an indicator or cyclical economic performance. The Council of Economic Advisers, the Treasury Department, and the Federal Reserve Board used them to assess near-term economic activity, and for other purposes. The Census Bureau used them in preparing estimates of private gas and electric construction for the value of new construction put in place program.


A designated principal economic indicator program; provided the only source of quarterly data on actual and planned expenditures on plant and equipment directly from businesses. Replaced by the Investment Plans Survey to improve the quality and comparability of capital investment data.


Annual Capital Expenditures Survey

Investment Plans Survey

Pollution Abatement Costs and Expenditures

Value of New Construction Put in Place

Business Expenditures Survey (formerly Assets and Expenditures Survey)




Next Program

U.S. Economy

Economy Overview