Detailed Industry, Product, Geographic Data from the 2007 Economic Census Become Available in 2009

Article excerpt

In the first quarter of 2009, the U.S. Bureau of the Census(Census Bureau) will begin the release of data from the 2007 Economic Census (EC). This census, which is now conducted every five years, will provide detailed data on establishments primarily engaged in the nonfarm industries. For all covered industries, data on employment, payroll, and output (sales, receipts, or shipments") are being collected and will be presented by detailed industry and geographic area. For selected industries, data are being collected on labor costs, output by type of product, business expenses, inventories, capital expenditures, and assets. The 2007 EC also will include special reports on nonemployer businesses, business owners, business expenses, commodity flows by mode of transportation, franchising, and on Puerto Rico and the other island areas.

This article provides an overview of the EC. It describes differences between the 2002 EC and the 2007 EC, which include changes to classification systems, data content, and the means by which the data will be disseminated. For the 2007 EC, the means of dissemination will be significantly different. The article also provides the latest Census Bureau release schedule for 2007 EC reports. (1)

The Economic Census: An Overview

Legal Authority

The EC is mandated by law under Title 13 of the United States Code (sections 131, 191, and 224). The law requires firms to respond and specifies penalties for firms that fail to report. The law also requires the Census Bureau to maintain confidentiality, and individual responses may be used only for statistical purposes. Individual responses may be seen only by people sworn to uphold Title 13. No data are published that could reveal the identity or activity of any individual or business. Confidential information on census forms is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, and copies retained in respondents' files are immune from legal process.

A Census of Establishments

In an EC, the Census Bureau collects and publishes data primarily on an "establishment" basis, where an establishment is a business or industrial unit at a single physical location that produces or distributes goods or performs services, for example, a single store or factory. The Census Bureau uses this basis, as opposed to a "company" basis because many companies own or control more than one establishment, and those establishments may be located in different geographic areas and may be engaged in different industries. By collecting separate information for each establishment, the EC a can provide users with data for detailed industries and geographic areas. (2) In addition, establishment data provide industry information on the specific inputs and outputs and how they relate to each other.


The EC is the most comprehensive source of economic information on business establishments available. It provides detailed industry and geographic statistics that are used by businesses, researchers, and government policymakers. In addition, it provides the detailed data used by the Federal Reserve Board to benchmark the Index of Industrial Production, by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to develop weights for the Producer Price Index, and by the Bureau of Economic Analysis to prepare input-output accounts. (3) Universe-level estimates from the EC also are used to benchmark most of the Census Bureau's annual, quarterly, and monthly economic surveys--such as the annual surveys of manufacturing and wholesale trade and the monthly survey of retail trade--and to update the annual and monthly survey sample frames for changes in the composition and organization of the economy. For example, the monthly manufacturers' shipments, inventories, and orders series will incorporate the 2007 EC data in the spring of 2010, as will the annual wholesale and retail trade surveys; when the EC data are incorporated, these series will be subject to revision beginning with 2003. …