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County Business Patterns (CBP) Glossary

Abbreviations and Symbols

The following abbreviations and symbols are used with County Business Patterns data:

D Withheld to avoid disclosing data for individual companies; data are included in higher level totals
G Low noise; cell value was changed by less than 2 percent by the application of noise
H Moderate noise; cell value was changed by 2 percent or more but less than 5 percent by the application of noise
J High noise; cell value was changed by 5 percent or more by the application of noise
S Withheld because estimate did not meet publication standards
N Not available or not comparable
r Revised
X Not applicable
a 0 to 19 employees
b 20 to 99 employees
c 100 to 249 employees
e 250 to 499 employees
f 500 to 999 employees
g 1,000 to 2,499 employees
h 2,500 to 4,999 employees
i 5,000 to 9,999 employees
j 10,000 to 24,999 employees
k 25,000 to 49,999 employees
l 50,000 to 99,999 employees
m 100,000 employees or more


At-Large District 

At-large is a designation for members of a governing body who are elected, and one at-large representative is elected from the entire state. States with at-large congressional districts are: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming.

Combined Statistical Area (CSA)

CSAs consist of two or more adjacent metropolitan and/or micropolitan areas that have substantial employment interchange. Because CSAs represent groupings of metropolitan and/or micropolitan statistical areas, they should not be ranked or compared with individual metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas.

Congressional District

A congressional district is an electoral constituency that elects a single member of a congress. A congressional district is based on population, which, in the United States, is taken using a census every ten years. There are 435 congressional districts in the United States House of Representatives.


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 sole proprietors and partners of unincorporated businesses.

Employment Size Class

Numbers of establishments by employment size class is determined by paid employment in the mid-March pay period. Employment size class is derived from the original employment value before noise is applied. This may cause a slight difference between the tabulated total establishment value and the value shown for an employment size class.  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.


An enterprise (or "company") is a business organization consisting of one or more domestic establishments that were specified under common ownership or control. The enterprise and the establishment are the same for single-establishment firms. Each multi-establishment company forms one enterprise - the enterprise employment and annual;payroll are summed from the associated establishments.

For statistics at the company level, refer to the Statistics of U.S. Businesses.


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.

Establishment counts represent the number of locations with paid employees any time during the year. This series excludes government establishments except for wholesale liquor establishments (NAICS 4248), retail liquor stores (NAICS 44531), tobacco stores (NAICS 453991), book publishers (511130), monetary authorities – central bank (NAICS 521110), federally-chartered savings institutions (NAICS 522120), federally-chartered credit unions (NAICS 522130), hospitals (NAICS 622), gambling industries (NAICS 7132), and casino hotels (NAICS 721120).

Legal Form of Organization (LFO)

LFO is derived from administrative records data sources. The following LFOs are included in this report.

C-Corporation and other corporate legal forms of organization - An incorporated business that is granted a charter recognizing it as a separate legal entity having its own privileges, and liabilities distinct from those of its members.

S-Corporation - A form of corporation where the entity does not pay any federal income taxes. The corporation's income or losses are divided among and passed to its shareholders. The shareholders must then report the income or loss on their own individual income tax returns. 

Sole Proprietorships - An unincorporated business with a sole owner.

Partnership - An unincorporated business where two or more persons join to carry on a trade or business with each having a shared financial interest in the business.

Non-profit - An organization that does not distribute surplus funds to its owners or shareholders, but instead uses surplus funds to help pursue its goals. Most non-profit organizations are exempt from income taxes.

Government - A business that taxpayers primarily fund. Most government businesses are out of scope to this data series.

Metropolitan/Micropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)

MSA is a core area containing a substantial population nucleus, together with adjacent communities having a high degree of economic and social integration with that core.

Each metropolitan statistical area must have at least one urbanized area of 50,000 or more inhabitants. Each micropolitan statistical area must have at least one urban cluster of at least 10,000 but less than 50,000 population. Metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas can be collectively referred to as "Core Based Statistical Areas" (CBSAs); however, CBP uses the term MSA.

Municipios and Other County Equivalents for Island Areas

The primary legal divisions of Puerto Rico are termed municipios. County Business Patterns publishes a municipio as the equivalent of a county in the United States. Districts and islands in American Samoa, municipalities in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, districts in Guam, and islands in the U.S. Virgin Islands are treated as an equivalent of a county in the United States.

Noise Infusion 

Noise infusion is a method of disclosure avoidance in which a random noise multiplier is applied to certain data values for each business prior to table creation. Disclosure protection is accomplished in a manner that results in a relatively small change in the majority of tabulated values.

North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)

The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is the standard used by Federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for the purpose of collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data related to the U.S. business economy. This system is used by the United States, Canada and Mexico.


Payroll includes all forms of compensation, such as salaries, wages, commissions, dismissal pay, bonuses, vacation allowances, sick-leave pay, and employee contributions to qualified pension plans paid during the year to all employees. For corporations, payroll 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. This definition of payroll is the same as that used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Form 941 as taxable Medicare Wages and Tips (even if not subject to income or FICA tax). First-quarter payroll consists of payroll during the January-to-March quarter.


A county-equivalent geography assigned to employers without a fixed location within a state (or of unknown county location). Employers who report data for multiple locations under one common location are also given a statewide classification. Statewide classification is included at the end of county-level CBP tables. This incomplete detail causes only slight understatement of county employment.

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