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County Business Patterns, 1996


Washington, D.C.
Issued October 1998

U.S. Department of Commerce
William M. Daley, Secretary

Economic and Statistics Administration
Lee Price, Acting Under Secretary for Economic Affairs

Bureau of the Census
Dr. Kenneth Prewitt, Director

County Business Patterns, 1996 [machine- readable data file] / prepared by the Bureau of the Census. Washington: The Bureau [producer and distributor], 1998.

This file documentation consists of the following materials:


Type of File:

Summary statistics.

Universe Description:

The universe is all business establishments with one or more paid employees. Data are not included for agriculture production, railroad, most government, or household employment. Data are tabulated by detailed industry based on the revised 1987 Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) designations. (Data for the 1987 County Business Patterns and earlier years were based on the 1972 SIC designations.)

Subject-Matter Description:

This file provides data on total number of establishments, mid- March employment, first quarter and annual payroll, and number of establishments by employment-size classes. Whereas data in County Business Patterns printed reports are not shown for SIC's with fewer than 100 employees in a given area, there is no such restriction on the data files. This series excludes governmental establishments classified in the covered industries except for liquor stores and wholesale liquor establishments operated by State and local governments; all government hospitals are included beginning with 1989 data.

Geographic Coverage:

United States, 50 states, the District of Columbia, and counties. Data for Puerto Rico is released only in publication format.

Technical Description:

File Medium: Computer tape.

File Structure: Rectangular.

File Size: The State file contains approximately 50,000 records. The county file contains approximately 1,000,000 records. The U.S. Summary file contains approximately 1,140 records.

File Sort Sequence: U.S. Summary File (formerly File 1B) 2-, 3-, and 4-digit SIC code. State File (formerly File 1B) FIPS State Code by 2-, 3-, and 4-digit SIC code. County File (formerly File 2) FIPS State Code by FIPS county code by 2-, 3-, and 4-digit SIC code.

Reference Materials:

County Business Patterns, 1996 Technical Documentation. The documentation contains this abstract, other information about the file, a glossary, and data dictionaries. One copy accompanies each file order. When ordered separately, it is available from Marketing Services Office, Customer Services Center, Bureau of the Census, Washington, DC 20233. Telephone: 301-763-INFO(4636).

Related Printed Reports:

U.S. Bureau of the Census. County Business Patterns, 1996. Fifty- three reports will be issued: one for each State, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and a U.S. Summary. These reports will be available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402. Price varies by report. Contact Customer Services (301-763-INFO(4636)) for ordering information. These reports also are available on the Census Bureau's Internet site at

Related Diskette Files:

Selected County Business Patterns data are available on 3-1/2" diskettes in an IBM PC format. The State and county files are available by 2-digit SIC code only. For further information, contact Marketing Services Office,Customer Services Center, Bureau of the Census, Washington, DC 20233. Related CD-ROM Files: County Business Patterns data are available in dBASE III+TM format on CD-ROM beginning with the 1986 series. For further information, contact Marketing Services Office, Customer Services Center, Bureau of the Census, Washington, DC 20233.

File Availability:

The U.S. Summary and SMSA files are sold together by year(s) for 1975-1978, and U.S. Summaries only for 1979-1996. State and county data are available separately for each census geographic division by individual year, 1974-1996.

County Business Patterns files for the most recent years can be ordered by contacting Customer Services at 1-800-923-8282 or 301-763-INFO (4636). When ordering, please include file name and year. Include the division number (see list below) if requesting county data for selected divisions only. Contact the National Archives (Telephone: 301-713-6630) for ordering and pricing information for data years prior to 1988.

File Name Specify Year
U.S. (formerly CBP 1B) 1979-1996
U.S./SMSA (formerly CBP 1B/2) 1975-1978 
State (formerly CBP 1B) 1974-1996
County (formerly CBP 2) 1974-1996

Census Geographic Divisions
Division 1 Division 2 Division 3 Division 4 Division 5 Division 6 Division 7 Division 8 Division 9
Maine New York Ohio Minnesota Delaware Kentucky Arkansas Montana Washington
New Hampshire New Jersey Indiana Iowa Maryland Tennessee Louisiana Idaho Oregon
Vermont Pennsylvania Illinois Missouri District of Columbia Alabama Oklahoma Wyoming California
Massachusetts   Michigan North Dakota Virginia Mississippi Texas Colorado Alaska
Rhode Island   Wisconsin South Dakota North Carolina     New Mexico Hawaii
Connecticut     Nebraska South Carolina     Arizona  
      Kansas Georgia     Utah  
        Florida     Nevada  


County Business Patterns is an annual series that provides subnational economic data by industry. The series is useful for studying the economic activity of small areas; analyzing economic changes over time; and as a benchmark for statistical series, surveys, and databases between economic censuses. The series serves various business uses such as analyzing market potential, measuring the effectiveness of sales and advertising programs, setting sales quotas, and developing budgets. The data are also used by government agencies for administration and planning.

Most of the nation's economic activity is covered in this series. Data are excluded for self-employed persons, domestic service workers, railroad employees, agricultural production workers, most government employees, and employees on ocean-borne vessels or in foreign countries. Data are provided by industry in the following economic divisions: agricultural services, forestry, and fishing; mining; construction; manufacturing; transportation and public utilities; wholesale trade; retail trade; finance, insurance, and real estate; and services. Data are tabulated by industry as defined in the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Manual: 1987.

This series has been published annually since 1964 and at irregular intervals dating back to 1946. The comparability of data over time may be affected by definitional changes in establishments, activity status, and industrial classifications. For more details on these changes, see the section on Comparability With Other Data.


County Business Patterns basic data items are extracted from the Business Register, a file of all known single and multiestablishment companies maintained and updated by the Bureau of the Census. The annual Company Organization Survey provides individual establishment data for multiestablishment companies. Data for single establishment companies are obtained from various Census Bureau programs, such as the Annual Survey of Manufactures and Current Business Surveys, as well as from administrative records of the Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration.


Earlier County Business Patterns

The comparability of data with previous County Business Patterns series may be affected by the following definitional changes:

  • the change from a "reporting unit" concept to establishment based data in 1974.
  • the change in definition of "active" establishments in 1983.
  • the change in industrial classification definitions, the most recent occurring in 1988.

Economic Censuses

In comparing the employment and payroll shown in this series with economic censuses data, the user should bear in mind that definitional and coverage differences may affect the direct comparison of data items. The definitions are detailed in the documentation of the various products. The economic censuses present data reported for individual establishments; whereas, County Business Patterns are based primarily on administrative records and data reported from current surveys. While every effort is made to resolve significant differences for the same establishment, differences are known to exist.


In accordance with U.S. Code, Title 13, Section 9, no data are shown that would disclose the operations of an individual employer. However, the number of establishments in an industry classification and the distribution of these establishments by employment-size class are not considered to be disclosures, and so this information may be released even though other information is withheld.


All data are tabulated from universe files and are not subject to sampling errors. However, the data are subject to nonsampling errors. Nonsampling errors can be attributed to many sources: inability to identify all cases in the universe; definition and classification difficulties; differences in interpretation of questions; errors in recording or coding the data obtained; errors of collection, response, and coverage; and estimation of employers who reported too late to be included in the tabulations and for records with missing or misreported data. The accuracy of the data is determined by the joint effects of the various nonsampling errors. No direct measurement of these effects has been obtained; however, precautionary steps were taken in all phases of collection, processing, and tabulation to minimize the effects of nonsampling errors.



An establishment is a single physical location at which business is conducted or services or industrial operations are performed. It is not necessarily identical with a company or enterprise, which may consist of one or more establishments. When two or more activities are carried on at a single location under a single ownership, all activities generally are grouped together as a single establishment. The entire establishment is classified on the basis of its major activity and all data are included in that classification.

Administrative and auxiliary establishments primarily manage, administer, service, or support the activities of other establishments of the same company rather than the establishments of other companies or the general public. Data for these establishments are shown separately by industry division.

Establishment-size designations are determined by paid employment in the mid-March pay period. The size group "1 to 4" includes establishments that did not report any paid employees in the mid-March pay period but paid wages to at least one employee at some time during the year.

Establishment counts represent the number of locations with paid employees any time during the year. This series excludes governmental establishments except for liquor stores (SIC 592), wholesale liquor establishments (SIC 518), depository institutions (SIC 60), federal and federally- sponsored credit agencies (SIC 611), and hospitals (SIC 806).


Total payroll includes all forms of compensation, such as salaries, wages, reported tips, commissions, bonuses, vacation allowances, sick-leave pay, employee contributions to qualified pension plans, and the value of taxable fringe benefits. For corporations, it includes amounts paid to officers and executives; for unincorporated businesses, it does not include profit or other compensation of proprietors or partners. Payroll is reported before deductions for Social Security, income tax, insurance, union dues, etc. First-quarter payroll consists of payroll during the January-to-March quarter.

Mid-March Employment

Paid employment consists of full- and part-time employees, including salaried officers and executives of corporations, who are on the payroll in the pay period including March 12. Included are employees on paid sick leave, holidays, and vacations; not included are proprietors and partners of unincorporated businesses.


The quinquennial economic censuses are the primary source for industry and geography classifications. The annual Company Organization Survey, Annual Survey of Manufactures, Current Business Surveys, and other Census Bureau programs provide regular updates.

Industry Classification

Additional sources for assigning industry classifications are the Social Security Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These sources provide industry classification information for new businesses and businesses not canvassed in the Census Bureau programs. Establishments without sufficient industry information are tabulated in the "unclassified establishments" group.

In a few instances, the most detailed industry classifications for which data are shown represent a combination of more detailed SIC industries. The data for these establishments are included in the tabulations at a broader industry level. For this reason, the sum of industry components may not equal the total shown. The industry titles used throughout this series are the short SIC titles; complete descriptions are contained in the SIC manual.

Geography Classification

Most geography codes are derived from the physical location address reported in Census Bureau programs. The Internal Revenue Service provides supplemental address information. Those employers without a fixed location within a State (or of unknown county location) are included under a "Statewide" classification at the end of the county files. This incomplete detail causes only slight understatement of county employment. The independent cities in Virginia, and the cities of Baltimore, MD; Carson City, NV; and St. Louis, MO, are treated as separate counties.

How to Use the Data Dictionaries

These computer-generated reports document the data contents and the record layout of each file. Below is a brief description of the information provided for each data item.

The first line of each data item description gives the name, size/scale, begin position, data type, and the variable label. Following these items, on subsequent lines, are any applicable notes and value codes. Each of these items is defined below.

  1. Name. This is an arbitrarily assigned 8-character identifier. It may be mnemonic such as "STATE'' or "EDNUMBER,'' or sequential identifier such as "TAB1,'' "TAB2,'' ETC.
  2. Size/Scale. The size of a data item is given in characters. The scale of a data item is given in integer powers of 10. Implied decimals or multipliers (in integer powers of ten only) are indicated by a "-'' or a "+'' followed by a number. For example, 123.45 would appear on the data tape as 12345, and the size/scale value would be 5/-2. A number recorded in thousands (12,345,000 for example) would appear on the data tape as 12345 and the size/scale value would be 5/+3. Scale factors which are not an integer power of ten are identified in the notes following the label and in the footnotes.
  3. Begin. This is the location in the data record of the first character of the data item.
  4. Data Type. The data type indicates whether the data item is alphanumeric (A) or numeric (N).
  5. Description.
    • Label. This is a single 40 character line or a set of 40 character lines that describes the data item.
    • Notes and Value Codes. This section provides any relevant notes or footnote references. In addition, any value codes necessary for the data item are listed and labeled here.

Data Dictionaries — County Business Patterns, 1996

Appendix A - FIPS State and County Code List PDF

Appendix B - Standard Industrial Classification Industries Combined for County Business Patterns PDF

Appendix C - 1987 SIC Code List PDF

Appendix D - Census County Codes PDF

Appendix E - User Notes

User notes supply file purchasers with additional or corrected information which becomes available after the technical documentation or files are prepared. They are issued in a numbered series and automatically mailed to all users who purchase files or technical documentation from the Census Bureau.

Each user note may have a cover sheet which should be filed following this page. Technical documentation replacement pages will follow the cover sheet. These pages need to be filed in their proper location and the original pages destroyed. Replacement pages can be readily identified, since they have the user note date on the lower outside portion of each page.


Dr. Kenneth Prewitt, Director

Walter C. Odom, Jr., Chief

John P. Govoni, Chief

Edward D. Walker, Assistant Division Chief for Business Register

Jon Youngman, in the Survey Processing and Products Branch, under the direction of Dennis L. Wagner, Chief, developed the content and provided overall guidance on technical details. In the Microdata Access Branch of the Administrative and Customer Services Division, Amanda D. Shields, assisted by Sylvia Nowlin under the direction of Carmen Campbell, Chief, coordinated the production of this document.

The file should be cited as follows:

County Business Patterns, 1996: U.S. Summary File [machine-readable data file] / prepared by the Bureau of the Census. --Washington: The Bureau [producer and distributor].

County Business Patterns, 1996: State File [machine-readable data file] / prepared by the Bureau of the Census. --Washington: The Bureau [producer and distributor].

County Business Patterns, 1996: County File [machine-readable data file] / prepared by the Bureau of the Census. --Washington: The Bureau [producer and distributor].

The technical documentation should be cited as follows:

County Business Patterns, 1996 Technical Documentation / prepared by Microdata Access and Use Branch, Administrative and Customer Services Division, Bureau of the Census. --Washington: The Bureau, 1998.

For additional information concerning the subject matter of the file, contact Economic Planning and Coordination Division, Bureau of the Census, Washington, D.C. 20233. Telephone: 301-457-2580.

For additional information concerning the technical documentation, contact Administrative and Customer Services Division, Microdata Access Branch, Bureau of the Census, Washington, D.C. 20233. Telephone: 301-457-1214.

For additional information concerning the file, contact Administrative and Customer Services Division, Customer Services Branch, Bureau of the Census, Washington, D.C. 20233. Telephone: 301-763-INFO(4636).

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Administration and Customer Services Division | (301) 763-4400 |  Last Revised: July 09, 2013