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Economic Census Details Product Lines in Nearly Every Industry by State

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Every day, countless people across the country use Census data, including business owners like John, a restaurateur in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He had been thinking of adding a drive-in window to each of his five businesses but wasn’t sure if the investment was worth it.

Then he discovered the Product Lines data available from the economic census. Through these data, John was able to determine that drive-in receipts for meals, snacks and nonalcoholic beverages made up nearly 40 percent of the total sales of fast-food businesses in New Mexico.

Moreover, John was able to leverage this information to get a small business loan. Through the increased sales spawned from the development, he was able to pay off his 10-year improvement loan in just three years.

Introducing the Economic Census

Conducted every five years, the economic census covers nearly 8 million employer businesses in the United States and is the most comprehensive business survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

It publishes detailed information not available from any other Census Bureau business program. Among them are the Products Lines data, which are tailored to each type of business in nearly every industry.

For example, there is information on fast-food restaurants. The data break out the sales of food and beverages by how the products are delivered to the customer as well as the other less common types of products sold by fast-food restaurants, such as food delivered for catered events and alcoholic beverages.

Did you know that grocery stores in California sold nearly $5.2 billion of frozen foods in 2012, nearly 7 percent of their total sales? Or that prescriptions made up 10.1 percent ($462 million) of the total sales of grocery stores in Kansas, well above the U.S. average of 4 percent?

These facts and other interesting nuggets are available in two just-released economic census infographics.

The map version of this new visualization allows you to compare key grocery store product lines for their state to other states throughout the country.

The infographic below focuses on key grocery store products for a state. It provides “Did You Know?” facts on the top states for each of these key product lines.

Some highlights:

  • Beer and ale made up 4.5 percent ($368.2 million) of the total sales of grocery stores in Oregon, compared to only 0.2 percent in Colorado.
  • Meat and poultry made up 16.1 percent of the total sales of grocery stores in Louisiana while fish and seafood made up 3.1 percent.
  • Candy and prepackaged snack foods made up 6.1 percent ($185.3 million) of the total sales of grocery stores in Hawaii but only 1.0 percent in South Dakota.

Why Responding to Economic Census Matters

Detailed information on the nation’s businesses are only possible when U.S. businesses complete the surveys conducted by the Census Bureau.

Collection of data for the 2017 Economic Census began on May 1 and dissemination of the data will begin in 2019.

Visit our economic census website to learn more about the program and how they can help the Census Bureau promote response from businesses.

Andrew W. Hait is a Survey Statistician/Economist at the U.S. Census Bureau.

Note: The estimates of the value of the products sold or services provided are based on scientifically selected sample of establishments and are therefore subject to sampling error. 
To view the measures of sampling error for these data, see the New Mexico fast food data or for the Grocery Store product lines data.


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