Frequently Asked Questions

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Survey of Business Owners: Why does the government take the Survey of Business Owners?

The SBO is part of the Economic Census program, which the Census Bureau is required by law (Title 13 of the United States Code) to conduct every 5 years, for years ending in “2” and “7.”  The Census Bureau combines data from the SBO with data from other economic surveys, economic censuses, and administrative records and presents them in American FactFinder, the Census Bureau's online, self-service data access tool.  The published data include number of firms (both firms with paid employees and firms with no paid employees), sales and receipts, number of paid employees, and annual payroll; they are presented by kind of business, geographic area, and size of firm (employment and receipts).  

These results will also contain summary statistics on the composition of businesses in the United States by gender, ethnicity, race, and veteran status.  Additional demographic and economic characteristics of business owners and their businesses will be included, such as owner's age, education level, veteran status, and primary function in the business; family- and home-based businesses; types of customers and workers; sources of financing for start-up, expansion, or capital improvements; outsourcing; use of Internet and e-commerce; and employer-paid benefits.

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