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News Conference
2002 Survey of Business Owners: Black-Owned Firms

April 18, 2006
Remarks of Thomas Mesenbourg
Associate Director for Economic Programs
U.S. Census Bureau

Good morning.

The United States Census Bureau produces a wealth of information about the Nation’s economy. For example, one hundred and twenty-two times year, we release principal economic indicators reports on retail sales, construction activity, international trade, corporate profits, manufacturers shipments and orders, to name but a few.

While the economic indicators serve as important barometers of current economic conditions, the Economic Census, done once every 5 years, provides comprehensive information on the Nation’s 23 million businesses. Since 2004, we have released almost 1,500 reports from the 2002 Economic Census. These reports provide detailed information on 900 different industries, and generate detailed geographic information providing economic statistics for states, counties, cities, and some 12,000 places with 2500 or more inhabitants.

The Census Bureau’s current economic statistics, when combined with the results of the 2002 Economic Census, create an intricate and multi-faceted mosaic of the U.S. economy. Heretofore, this mosaic described business activity in different economic sectors, industries, and locations, but the picture did not portray any information about characteristics of the owners of those businesses – the men and women who make businesses living organisms that are born, live, and sometimes die.

Today, we release new statistics from the Census Bureau’s 2002 Survey of Business Owners that illustrate the growing diversity of our Nation’s business owners. Today’s report on Black-owned businesses, combined with our recent releases on women-owned and Hispanic-owned businesses, and upcoming reports on Asian-owned and American Indian-owned businesses, increase the richness, texture, and usefulness of our economic statistics mosaic.

This fall we will release the first information in more than a decade on the characteristics of businesses and business owners. Information will be provided on home-based, family-owned, and franchised businesses as well as showing information about the age, hours worked, educational attainment, and veteran status of business owners.

Before we hear from our panel, I want to provide you with a few facts about the Survey of Business Owners. The survey results we will be discussing this morning cover calendar year 2002 activities, but data were collected from a sample of about 1.3 million businesses with paid employees during the second half of 2003, and from a sample of 1.2 million sole proprietor and “mom and pop” businesses with no paid employees during the second half of 2004.

In an effort to produce more timely information from the 2002 SBO, we issued an Advance Report on Characteristics of Employer Business Owners in February 2005, followed in July 2005 by Preliminary Estimates of Business Ownership by Gender, Hispanic Origin, and Race. All Survey of Business Owner reports are available online at www.census.gov.

There are four things that you need to know about the 2002 SBO. First, we changed the name from the previous Survey of Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises to the Survey of Business Owners since we are providing characteristics information on all businesses. Second, the 2002 SBO uses the North American Industry Classification System rather than the old, antiquated Standard Industrial Classification System used in prior surveys. The 2002 report will show data on 19 NAICS sectors compared to only 8 under the old SIC. Third, the 2002 SBO uses the 1997 OMB standards for reporting race and ethnicity. The standard recognized Asians as a separate group from Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders and the 2002 reports will show these groups separately. The most important change, however, was allowing respondents the option of selecting one or more racial designations. Since the 2002 SBO permitted businesses to report multiple races, an individual business could be tabulated in more than one racial group, if they satisfied the 51 percent ownership rule. Because of multiple race reporting, we will not be issuing a 2002 report showing total minority ownership. Fourth, the 2002 SBO collected detailed information on the characteristics of both the businesses and the business owners. This marks the first time this characteristics information was collected from all 2.5 million sampled businesses. For calendar year 1992, we collected more limited characteristics information in a separate survey but from a much smaller sample of only 125,000 businesses.

Finally, let me thank the millions of businesses that took the time to complete and return their 2002 SBO report forms. Without their cooperation and participation, we would not have been able to produce these statistics.

Now let’s turn to the results of the 2002 Report on Black-Owned Businesses.

Valerie Strang, will be our first speaker. Valerie has been employed at the Census Bureau since 1984. Valerie has been responsible for the Survey of Business for the past 13 years and her leadership has been instrumental in implementing the new, improved 2002 Survey of Business Owners Survey.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | PIO@census.gov | Last Revised: June 14, 2013