Census Bureau

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To provide periodic and comprehensive data about service establishments and their activities. The United States Code, Title 13, requires this census and provides for mandatory responses.


Domestic establishments that provide services to consumers, businesses, governments, and other organizations. These include all taxable establishments and tax-exempt establishments with payroll classified in SIC Division I except: academic and professional schools (SIC 821-2); labor, political, and religious organizations (SIC 863 and 865-6); and households (SIC 88). In 1992, over 8.7 million employer and nonemployer establishments reported receipts or revenues of some $1.6 trillion.


Basic data obtained for all establishments include kind of business, Federal income tax status, geographic location, taxable operating receipts (revenue for tax-exempt establishments), annual and first quarter payroll, and employment for the pay period including March 12. Establishments receiving a census form provide additional data on operational and organizational status, sources of receipts, business characteristics, and industry specific measures such as exports and the number of hotel accommodations. Other measures for tax-exempt organizations include gifts and endowment income.


Every 5 years since 1972, for years ending in "2" and "7." From 1933 through 1967, selected service industries statistics were published periodically as part of the census of business. Industry coverage has broadened over time; a major expansion in 1977 added coverage of many tax-exempt activities. Data collection begins at the end of December of the census year and responses are due in about 8 weeks. Data are requested for activities taking place during the census calendar year.


A mail-out/mail-back data collection of all establishments of multi-unit companies, all large single-unit employer firms, and selected small employers; plus administrative records data for non-selected employers and taxable nonemployers. All establishments of multi-unit firms and single-establishment employers with annualized payroll above a size cutoff (cutoffs vary by industry, but include all employers with 10 or more employees) receive a census form. A sample of small employers also receive a census form and are selected using a stratified sample based on industry and geography. Basic data for non-selected small employers and taxable non-employers are obtained from Federal administrative records. Estimates for industry-specific data are based partly on small employer sample results.


Geographic Area Series reports consist of 52 publications, one for the U.S., each state, and the District of Columbia. These reports summarize data by kind of business and Federal income tax status for the U.S., states, and metropolitan areas and for counties and places having 2,500 inhabitants or more. Tabulations present basic data compiled from establishments with payroll.

The ZIP Code Statistics Series summarizes basic statistics on service industry totals for taxable employers by 5-digit ZIP Code and gives limited industry detail for number of employer establishments by receipts size and employment size categories. It is only available on CD-ROM and public use sales tapes.

Nonemployer Statistics Series reports include data on the number of establishments and receipts by kind of business, establishments with and without payroll, and number of proprietorships and partnerships. Data and detail vary by geographic area for the U.S., states, and metropolitan areas. Similar data are available only on CD-ROMs for counties and places with 2,500 or more inhabitants.

Subject Series reports consist of 5 volumes presenting special interest tabulations for the U.S. with additional geographic detail for some topics. Titles include: Hotels, Motels, and Other Lodging Places; Establishment and Firm Size (Including Legal Form of Organization); Miscellaneous Subjects; Capital Expenditures, Depreciable Assets, Sources of Receipts or Revenue, and Operating Expenses.


Businesses compare their sales to census totals for their industry or area to make plans and evaluate performance. Companies use census data to lay out territories, allocate advertising, and locate new stores or offices. Firms supplying goods and services to other businesses use census data to target industries for marketing. Consultants and researchers use census data to analyze changes in economic structure and location.

Important measures of economic activity, such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), are based on census data. Associations and news media study census data to find key business facts and project trends. Legislators use census data in the preparation and evaluation of new laws. State and local governments monitor census data to understand their economic base and attract new business. The Census Bureau uses census data in sampling and benchmarking for surveys.


The only source of detailed industry statistics for small geographic areas and industry-specific measures.


o Service Annual Survey

o Enterprise Statistics

o Assets and Expenditures Survey

o Census Nonemployer Statistics

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o U.S. Economy o Economy Overview

revised 07/31/96