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The 2022 Economic Census Collects Data That Helps Businesses Manage and Expand Their Reach

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The 2022 Economic Census survey mailout started last week and many may be wondering how this data being collected benefits them.

The economic census measures employment, payroll and revenue by service or product across the nation’s businesses — invaluable information for overall business strategy and everyday decision-making by governments, economic development organizations and business owners.

The 2022 Economic Census now underway is conducted in 2023 and collects and publishes data for the 2022 reference year. The statistics it collects will cover 19 economic sectors that encompass 910 North American Industry Classification System industries. Businesses asked to participate should respond by March 15.

Economic development organizations use economic census data to help determine areas of need for services, such as supermarkets or banks and whether to provide incentives or grants to lure these businesses.

If you’re one of the more than 4 million business locations that has been selected to respond to the economic census and are still wondering: What’s in it for me? 

Consider this:

  • Are you a business owner looking to start a business or broaden the scope of your current business?
  • Are you researching and scouting potential locations, getting a feel for the current landscape of your industry or even the changes in the industry over time?
  • Are you an established business that wants a fresh perspective on the market to get a sense of how your competition is doing?

Here’s how data from the economic census can help you.

Take a coffee shop, for instance. Whether you already own a coffee shop or are looking to open one in your area, it’s crucial to evaluate what your competition might be generally and get some facts.

How many coffee shops are in the area you’re considering? What is the total revenue and payroll of all the coffee shops combined? That information can help you decide what your cost and profit would be and if you should open a business there at all.

You can also see how many distributors and resellers of items needed to operate your coffee shop are available — also key to assessing the feasibility of a location. There are many other factors to consider. The economic census can provide a foundation for your business plan, market research and strategy.

It can also arm you with key information if you’re a policymaker.

  • For example, do you help assess resources and services available in your jurisdiction to inform planning and budget? Have you noticed other communities thriving because of industries in their jurisdictions and realized yours hasn’t seen the same growth?
  • Are you maximizing the data needed to make the best decisions to benefit the communities you serve?

Economic development organizations use economic census data to help determine areas of need for services, such as supermarkets or banks and whether to provide incentives or grants to lure these businesses.

They can also help local officials gauge whether they still need to attract investment in certain sectors – and help them assess potential impacts of policy, taxation and spending.

Since the economic census is conducted every five years (for years ending in 2 and 7) it also provides historical context to identify trends.

Just as with the coffee shop example cited earlier, there are other factors that contribute to government planning and decision-making overall. However, being armed with a general understanding of the landscape and how it has evolved can maximize the effectiveness of any plan.

We hope these examples serve as inspiration and help crystallize the direct benefits of the economic census. 

Additional Resources

If the thought of wading through and analyzing such a large amount of data is overwhelming, the U.S. Census Bureau has tools and resources to help you get the most out of economic census statistics.

Theresa Gordon is chief of the Census Bureau’s Data User and Trade Outreach Branch.

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Page Last Revised - February 10, 2023
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