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Interactive Visualization Shows What State and Sector Data Have Been Released

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When the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported strong increases in the Real Gross Domestic Product for the United States in the last two quarters of 2017, it signaled growth in the national economy.

But what did these increases mean to your local economy and to the economies of communities across the country?  Where is this growth concentrated? In certain areas or distributed across all regions?  Where can data users turn for insight into their local economies?

The answer: The Economic Census.

In January, the Census Bureau began rolling out state and local area data from the Economic Census. It is releasing the data on a state by NAICS sector basis through the fall.

Every five years, the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a census of the nearly 7.6 million employer businesses in the United States. 

In September 2019, the First Look report from the 2017 Economic Census was released. It showed that businesses employed over 126 million workers, with the Health Care and Social Assistance sector (North American Industry Classification System or NAICS code 62) accounting for 20.6 million of these workers. 

The Retail Trade sector had the most establishments (nearly 1.1 million) and the Wholesale Trade sector reported the highest output of any sector, at just over $8.5 trillion in sales.

But these national-level data only hint at the changes in our economy. 

In January, the Census Bureau began rolling out state and local area data from the Economic Census. It is releasing the data on a state by NAICS sector basis through the fall.



To keep users posted, the Census Bureau created this “What Has Been Released by State?” interactive visualization. It allows users to visualize this flow release and determine if sector data has been released for their state. The visualization also includes links to the Census Bureau’s new data.census.gov dissemination platform

When complete, the data will include publishable information for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, 3,166 counties and 16,237 cities and towns. The data are not only for 2-digit NAICS sectors as a whole but also for more detailed 6-digit NAICS industries.

This will help users better understand the composition of their local economies. Comparing these data over time shows the growth in some industries and decline in others. 

But what about the definition of our communities themselves? The Economic Census helps with this, too.


Changing Geography

Of the 16,349 economic places recognized by the 2017 Economic Census, over 58% had some type of geographic change since the 2012 Economic Census.

This includes places like Tysons, Va., whose economic place name used to be Tysons Corner. It also includes places like Alabaster, in Alabama’s Shelby County, that increased its land area, and places like Wilson, in Wisconsin’s Sheboygan County, that lost land area. 

Understanding these geographic changes is important for all (not just Census) data users as it helps ensure that comparisons over time are accurate. It allows users to evaluate whether economic growth in an area is just a result of the boundary change or of real economic change.

The 2017 Economic Census will also include 442 places that qualified because of population or workforce growth. This includes places like Meeker, Colo., with an estimated population of 2,591 in 2018.

The Economic Census also reflects decline in some small communities: 171 places that were published separately in the 2012 Economic Census but won’t be in the 2017 Economic Census. This includes places like Mountain Lake Park, in Maryland’s Garrett County, population 2,242, just under the 2,500 cutoff for separate inclusion in the Economic Census.

Changing Industries

The Economic Census not only covers the nation’s ever-changing geography but the types of businesses too. 

The 2017 Economic Census reported that the 3,783 businesses in the new 2017 NAICS industry for Research and Development in Nanotechnology (NAICS 541713) employed 171,666 workers and reported $42.0 billion in revenue in 2017. 

The local area data provide statistics for the states where these businesses are located. 

The census also covers industries where the composition of the companies that own the businesses have changed over time.

In 2012, there were 129 household appliance manufacturers – 88 Household Cooking, 22 Household Refrigerator and Freezer, 4 Household Laundry and 25 Other Household Appliance manufacturers in the United States. In the 2017 Economic Census, these four separate NAICS industries were combined into one new code. This new industry, Major Household Appliance Manufacturing (NAICS 335220), reported 161 establishments in 2017.

The Economic Census provides some of the richest and most detailed economic data available from the Census Bureau.  The quality of these data are a testament to the millions of U.S. businesses that completed their Economic Census forms. 


Andrew Hait is a survey statistician/economist at the U.S. Census Bureau.



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