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The glossary below may define terms not included in the main Glossary on

The main Glossary on provides official definitions covering all topics, censuses, surveys and programs.

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Annual Payroll

The gross earnings of all employees paid during the calendar year (cash basis). It includes all forms of compensation, such as salaries, wages, commissions, dismissal pay, bonuses, vacation and sick leave pay, and compensation in kind, prior to such deductions as employees' social security contributions, withholding taxes, group insurance, union dues, and savings bonds. The total includes salaries of officers of corporations; it excludes payments to proprietors or partners of unincorporated concerns. The Census definition of payroll is identical to that recommended to all Federal statistical agencies by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, in particular, the definition used on the Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return, Treasury Form 941. This definition does not include employers' social security contributions or other nonpayroll labor costs, such as employees' pension plans, group insurance premiums, and workers' compensation. Data presented on annual payroll are sample-based and include payroll of enterprise support locations, such as retail warehouses and central administrative offices, and thus may not match payroll data compiled in the 2012 Economic Census.

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Annual Retail Trade Survey (ARTS)

A mandatory annual survey which collects sales, inventory, purchases, accounts receivable, and expenses data from firms primarily engaged in retail trade and accommodation and food services. This supplements the Economic Census.

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Coefficient of Variation (CV)

Also called relative standard error; estimated standard error expressed as a percent of the estimated total or proportion; the standard error of the estimate times 100 divided by the value being estimated.

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Confidence Interval (CI)

A range about a given estimator that has a specified probability of containing the average of the estimates for the parameter derived from all possible samples of the same size and design. Associated with each interval is a percentage of confidence, which is interpreted as follows. If, for each possible sample, an estimate of a population parameter and its approximate standard error were obtained and using a t-statistic with 15 (16 random groups-1) degrees of freedom, then:

  • For 90% confidence, the CI will range from 1.753*SE below to 1.753*SE above the estimate; includes the average of the estimates derived from all possible samples of the same size and design.
  • For 95% confidence, the CI will range from 2.132*SE below to 2.132*SE above the estimate; includes the average of the estimates derived from all possible samples of the same size and design.

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Title 13 of the US Code authorizes the Census Bureau to conduct censuses and surveys. Section 9 requires that any information collected under the authority of Title 13 be kept confidential. Section 214 and Title 18: Sections 3559 and 3571 state that wrongful disclosure of such information are punishable by up to 5 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. Title 13 prohibits disclosing information of any individual firm. The Census Bureau’s internal Disclosure Review Board sets the confidentiality rules for all data releases. A checklist approach is used to ensure that all potential risks to the confidentiality of the data are considered and addressed.

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In accordance with federal law governing Census reports, publication of any data which would disclose the operations of an individual establishment or business organization must be withheld from publication.

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Economic Census

A mandatory survey held every 5 years during years that end with a 2 or 7. For example, 2002, 2007, 2012, 2017 and so forth. This survey asks for revenue in details. Data provided then factors into indicators of the nation's economic statistics and performance like Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

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Employer's Cost for Fringe Benefits

Expenditures made by the employer for legally required and voluntary fringe benefit programs for employees. Legally required fringe benefits includes all programs required under Federal and State legislation such as FICA, unemployment tax, workers' compensation, and state disability payments. Voluntary fringe benefits includes programs not specifically required by Federal or State legislation, such as life and health insurance premiums for employees; costs incurred under defined contribution plans such as profit sharing; and costs incurred for both qualified and unqualified defined pension plans.

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Employer Identification Number (EIN)

A nine-digit number used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for any legal entity that is required to file a federal tax return

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A single physical location where business is conducted, or where services are performed.

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A business organization or entity consisting of one or more domestic establishment locations under common ownership or control.

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Horvitz-Thompson Estimates

Estimates computed by summing weighted data (reported or imputed) where the weight for a given unit is the reciprocal of its probability of being selected into the sample.

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The process used to tabulate sales, receipts, and inventories data for non-response cases.

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Multiunit Firms

 Firms with two or more establishments.

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The inability to obtain all the intended measurements or responses about all selected units. There are two types:

  • Unit nonresponse - The inability to obtain any of the substantive measurements about a sampled unit.
  • Item nonresponse - Occurs either when a question is unanswered or the response to the question fails computer or analyst edits.

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Nonsampling Error

One of two types of errors in estimates from sample surveys; caused by indirect factors like:

  • Misreporting Miscoding or miskeying responses Misinterpreted questions Nonresponse Other errors of collection, response, coverage, or processing

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North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)

A six-digit numerical code that classifies a business into a certain category.

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Privacy Act

A 1974 Federal Act that protects the privacy of personal information that the government has on file. The act places restrictions on the collection, use, maintenance, and release of information about individuals.

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Quarterly Services Survey (QSS)

A quarterly survey that collects estimates of revenue from firms in service industries. This supplements Services Annual Survey (SAS).

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Revenues from Electronic Sources

The sale of products and services where the buyer places an order, or the price and terms of the sale are negotiated over a firm’s website, a third-party website, mobile applications, or other electronic systems such as private networks and dedicated lines. Payment may or may not be made online.

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All firms selected for a specific survey.

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Sampling Error

One of two types of errors in estimates from sample surveys; difference between the estimate and the result that would be obtained from a complete census conducted under the same survey conditions; occur because observations are made on a sample, not on the entire population.

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Sampling Variance

The squared difference, averaged over all possible samples of the same size and design, between the estimator and its average value.

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Service Annual Survey (SAS)

A mandatory annual survey that collects estimates of operating revenue, operating expense, and inventory from firms in service industries. This supplements the Economic Census.

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Standard Error (SE)

Measure of the variation among the estimates from all possible samples; measure of the precision with which an estimate from a particular sample approximates the average results of all possible samples; square root of the sampling variance.

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Title 13

Title 13 is the legal authority for the Census Bureau's programs. The Census Bureau's authority is founded on the United States constitution and Title 13. The data collected by the Census Bureau provide for the foundation on which our democratic system of government is based and are the leading source of quality data about the nation's economy and people. To fulfill its mission, the Census Bureau must collect quality data and distribute it in a way that preserves usefulness while protecting privacy and confidentiality.

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Title 26

Title 26 Internal Revenue Code provides for the conditions under which the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may disclose Federal Tax Returns and Return Information (FTI) to other agencies. Specifically, 26, U.S.C. 6103 (j) (1) provides for the disclosure of FTI to the Census Bureau for statistical purposes in the structuring of censuses and national economic accounts, as well as for conducting related statistical activities authorized by law.

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Total Error

The total error of an estimate based on a sample survey is the difference between the estimate and the true population value that it estimates; sampling and nonsampling error combined. The true population value is usually unknown.

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The weight indicates the approximate number of firms in the survey's universe represented by the selected firm. For example, an EIN selected with a weight of 21.000 represents itself and 20 similar businesses (in terms of NAICS and size) in the survey's universe

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