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2017 Economic Census Has Launched

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On May 1, the 2017 Economic Census launched as the U.S. Census Bureau began notifying 3.7 million business locations nationwide by mail with instructions on how to complete the survey online. Serving as the cornerstone of the nation’s economic statistics, the economic census provides critical source data for the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and other indicators of economic performance.

The Census Bureau mailed classification questionnaires on February 1, 2018, which collect industry classification for smaller establishments. The 2017 Economic Census is the first time the Census Bureau will conduct the survey almost entirely online. Only small businesses in U.S. territories will receive a paper questionnaire.

The economic census is conducted every five years (for years ending in 2 and 7) and is the most comprehensive collection of American economic activity and the U.S. government’s official five-year measure of businesses and the economy.

The information collected on the economic census include:

  • Employer Identification Number.
  • Physical location.
  • Primary business activity.
  • Sales, receipts or revenue.
  • Employment and payroll.
  • Industry-specific questions.

This economic census covers 18 economic sectors classified according to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) and more than 7,900 goods and services products on the new North American Product Classification System (NAPCS) basis.

Response to the economic census is critical to the broad cross-section of users who rely on the statistics for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Trade associations and chambers of commerce to promote economic development.
  • Business organizations for strategic planning.
  • Business owners for market research, business decisions, and to compare their business to the industry average.
  • Entrepreneurs for their business plans, as well as on loan applications with local banks and national small business lenders.

Most importantly, the economic census is vital because it is a key component to having an accurate picture of the U.S. economy, collecting comprehensive economic data such as business activity, employment, payroll and revenue.

For secure online reporting, instructions and a unique company code have been mailed to respondents, who will set up an online account on the secure website to complete the survey.  The deadline for businesses to respond to the economic census is June 12, 2018. Data releases will begin September 2019 and will be completed by December 2021. See the timeline graphic for more details.

For more information, visit the economic census page or the Census Bureau’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages.

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Page Last Revised - October 8, 2021
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