Frequently Asked Questions

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Survey of Business Owners: I need detailed industry and geographic area data from the Economic Census where do I start?

The most comprehensive and detailed industry and geographic area data come from the economic census every 5 years, for years ending in "2" and "7."  The economic census publishes basic data measures (number of establishments, sales, payroll and number of employees) by industry code and geographic area, as well as by other dimensions, such as, sales size and legal form of organization.  In addition, product detail is published for almost all industries, and numerous other data items are published for selected industries.

  • Finding Data, in the Economic Census webpage User Guide, will help you understand what data are available and how it's organized.

  • Using American FactFinder on the Economic Census webpage will help you find what you want in American FactFinder.
Along with the economic census every 5 years, there is also the Survey of Business Owners. This program collects data about characteristics of business owners, such as minority status, as well as characteristics of their businesses, such as sources of financing.

The most recent industry and geographic area data come from annual, quarterly, and monthly surveys. However, these surveys are more limited than the economic census in industry scope, geographic detail (most are U.S. only), and/or data content. Some survey special topics are not covered by the economic census.  The Business & Industry page includes links to these annual, quarterly, and monthly Census Bureau economic surveys.

The economic census and many surveys only cover establishments with paid employees.  You'll need to reference the separate Nonemployer Statistics for total industry and sales data.


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