Frequently Asked Questions

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FAQ

Where can I find answers to several questions I have regarding the Quarterly Financial Report (QFR) program?

Below are some common questions and answers with regard to the Quarterly Financial Report program.

  1. Besides mailing the QFR form back, are there any other ways to report?
  2. What is NAICS?
  3. Are estimates acceptable?
  4. I reported estimates last quarter. Do you want my book figures now?
  5. What businesses are considered in-scope to the QFR survey?
  6. What industry subsectors are covered in the QFR?
  7. About how long will it take to complete the QFR form?
  8. How is the privacy of my company protected?
  9. How many corporations are in the QFR sample?
  10. How do corporations get selected for this survey?
  11. How far back are QFR data available?
  12. How are corporations classified?
  13. What levels of industry detail are published?
  14. What levels of asset size detail are published?
  15. What is the difference between seasonally adjusted and not seasonally adjusted (or unadjusted) estimates?
  16. What is sampling variation and how do I interpret it?
  17. Why are QFR data for Retail Trade released later than the data for Manufacturing, Mining, Wholesale Trade, and Selected Services industries?
  18. Why are QFR data released approximately 75 days after the due date in the first, second, and third quarters, and approximately 90 days after the fourth quarter due date?
  19. Are QFR data comparable to other economic statistics?
  20. Is this survey mandatory?
  21. Who uses the data?
  22. My firm is no longer in business. What should I do?
  23. Why do you need to know if I own other companies or if another company owns my firm?
  24. If I need another copy of the QFR form, how can I obtain one?
  25. I'm a very small business. Why do you want information from me?
  26. How can I obtain the published data?

1. Besides mailing the QFR form back, are there any other ways to report?
The easiest method to report is to complete the survey online through our Business Help Site http://bhs.econ.census.gov/bhs/qfr/index.html. For this method you will need your Username and Password, which are located below the address label on your questionnaire. You can also call the QFR staff toll free at 800-272-4250 to get this information. A second reporting option is to fax your QFR form toll free to 800-447-4613.

2. What is NAICS?
NAICS is the North American Industry Classification System, and is used to classify QFR corporations' primary business activity. More information about NAICS is available at the following web site http://www.census.gov/naics/.

3. Are estimates acceptable?
Yes, if the actual data requested are not available by the due date, then your best estimates are an acceptable substitute for the actual data.

4. I reported estimates last quarter; do you want my book figures now?
Yes, we always want to improve our data. Fax your completed QFR form, containing revised figures, toll free to 800-447-4613. In order to reflect these changes and to provide users with the most accurate data available, revisions are made to the most recent four quarters of previously published data.

5. What businesses are considered in-scope to the QFR survey?
The QFR survey includes:

  • Domestic corporations primarily operating in Manufacturing Industries, and which have assets of $250,000 and over, or annual receipts equal to or greater than $600,000, at time of sample selection.
  • Domestic corporations primarily engaged in Mining, Wholesale Trade, Retail Trade, and Selected Service Industries, and which have assets of $50 million and over, or annual receipts equal to or greater than annually-adjusted, industry-specific values, at time of sample selection.

6. What industry subsectors are covered in the QFR?
The QFR covers the following NAICS industry subsectors:

  • Manufacturing: 311-316, 321-327, 331-337, 339
  • Mining: 211-213
  • Wholesale Trade 423, 424, 425
  • Retail Trade 441-448, 451-454
  • Selected Service Industries: 511-512, 515, 517-519, 541 (except 5411 Legal Services), 531-532, 561-562, 621-624, 721-722

7. About how long will it take to complete the QFR form?
The length of time it will take you to complete the QFR form, including time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information, has been estimated to average:

  • 3.0 hours per response for the long forms, QFR-200 (MT) and QFR-300(S)
  • 1.5 hours for the short form, QFR-201 (MG)

8. How is the privacy of my company protected?
Title 13, U.S. Code, Section 9 requires the U.S. Census Bureau to keep your report strictly confidential and protects copies of the reports retained in your files from legal process. By law, the information that you provide can only be used for statistical purposes that do not identify individual firms.

9. How many corporations are in the QFR sample?
The QFR sample currently consists of:

  • For Manufacturing, approximately 8,100 sample corporations drawn from a universe of approximately 136,000 corporations.
  • For Mining, approximately 300 sample corporations drawn from a universe of approximately 600 corporations.
  • For Wholesale Trade, approximately 1,200 sample corporations drawn from a universe of approximately 2,700 corporations.
  • For Retail Trade, approximately 600 sample corporations drawn from a universe of approximately 1,400 corporations.
  • For Selected Service Industries, approximately 2,400 sample corporations drawn from a universe of approximately 5,700 corporations.

10. How do corporations get selected for this survey?
Each year, a QFR sampling frame is built from an annual IRS file of corporate entities which are required to file IRS Forms 1120 or 1120S. This frame is stratified by industry classification and size of total assets and gross receipts prior to sampling.

11. How far back are QFR data available?
The QFR program has been collecting and publishing aggregate statistics on the financial results and position of U.S. corporations since 1947.

  • Currently, QFR data published prior to 1987 are not available in electronic format, but may be available for review at certain research libraries.
  • QFR publications are available online in PDF format from the year 1996 to the present.
  • QFR data are also available online in Excel format from the year 2006 to the present.
  • QFR data from the year 1987 to the present, previously offered in database (DBF) format, are now available online in Excel format.
  • Please visit the QFR web site at: http://www.census.gov/econ/qfr/

12. How are corporations classified?
Corporations are classified by industry based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), as follows:

  • The QFR survey includes corporations that derive a plurality of their domestic consolidated receipts from the NAICS Manufacturing, Mining, Wholesale Trade, Retail Trade, or Selected Service Sectors.
  • Corporations are further classified by the NAICS Subsector accounting for more gross receipts than any other Subsector within the Sector.
  • In some cases, corporations are classified by Industry Groups within the Subsector that account for more gross receipts than other Industry Groups with that Subsector.
  • Classification is reviewed periodically, and changed as needed, for as long as the corporation remains active in the sample.
  • More information about NAICS is available at the following web site: http://www.census.gov/naics/

13. What levels of industry detail are published?

  • The QFR publishes estimated statements of income and retained earnings, balance sheets, and related financial and operating ratios. These statistical data are aggregated by industry and by asset size.
  • Most in-scope industries are aggregated at the three-digit NAICS Subsector.
  • When statistically feasible, some Manufacturing Industries are aggregated in clusters of related four-digit NAICS Industry Groups, with a summary aggregation at the three-digit NAICS Subsector.
  • In addition, Manufacturing corporations are aggregated by All Nondurable Manufacturing, and by All Durable Manufacturing.
  • Finally, six Industry Sector aggregations are produced: All Manufacturing, All Mining, All Wholesale Trade, All Retail Trade, All Information, and All Professional and Technical Services (except Legal Services).

14. What levels of asset size detail are published?
The QFR publishes estimated statements of income and retained earnings, balance sheets, and related financial and operating ratios. These statistical data are aggregated by industry and by asset size.

  • For Manufacturing corporations, asset size is determined according to a company's total assets reported for the quarter. Several levels of asset size are tabulated and published, including assets under $25 million, assets $25 million and over, and all asset sizes (total).
  • Corporations in Mining, Wholesale Trade, Retail Trade, and Selected Service Industries are tabulated according to their total assets at the time of sample selection, and published only at the all asset sizes (total) level.

15. What is the difference between seasonally adjusted and not seasonally adjusted (or unadjusted) estimates?
The unadjusted estimates are survey estimates derived from data provided by the survey respondents. Seasonally adjusted estimates are adjustments to these initial unadjusted estimates to remove normal seasonal patterns from those initial estimates, facilitating quarter-to-quarter or year-to-year comparisons. The QFR produces seasonally adjusted estimates for net sales and net income after taxes for the Manufacturing Sector and net sales for the Retail Trade Sector. For more information about seasonal adjustment, please visit the QFR website at: http://www.census.gov/econ/qfr/, and select the tab ‘How the Data are Collected’.

16. What is sampling variation and how do I interpret it?
The sample used for QFR is one of many possible samples that could have been selected of the same size and using the same sample methodology. Each of these possible samples would most likely yield different results. The sample variance is a statistical measure of the variability among these possible samples. Measures of sampling variability can be used to derive interval estimates (or ranges) with prescribed levels of confidence that the interval includes the actual population total. For more information on calculating a confidence interval, please visit the QFR web site at: http://www.census.gov/econ/qfr/, and select the tab ‘How the Data are Collected’.

17. Why are QFR data for Retail Trade released later than the data for Manufacturing, Mining, Wholesale Trade, and selected Services industries?
The data collection quarters for Retail Trade corporations are one month behind the data collection quarters for Manufacturing, Mining, Wholesale Trade and selected Service industry corporations. Typically, Retail Trade corporations elect a fiscal year close with January 31 as their year end. The majority of Manufacturing, Mining, Wholesale Trade, and Selected Service Industry corporations elect a calendar year close with December 31 as their year end. For more information on QFR publication quarters compared to corporations' fiscal closing quarters, please visit the QFR web site at http://www.census.gov/econ/qfr/, and select the tab About the Survey.

18. Why are QFR data released approximately 75 days after the due date in the first, second, and third quarters, and approximately 90 days after the fourth quarter due date?
In the first three quarters of the year, the majority of the sampled Manufacturing, Mining, Wholesale Trade, and Selected Service Industry corporations are required to report their data by the 25th day following the close of the quarter. Corporations can request an extension by contacting the QFR staff. Historically, the majority of the data received are reviewed and processed three to four weeks prior to the close of the quarter. In the fourth quarter of the year, the QFR is aware of the other filing requirements of corporations for year end reporting. In addition to those considerations, the QFR delays the release of Manufacturing, Mining, Wholesale Trade, and selected Service industry data in order to include the fourth quarter Retail Trade data.

19. Are QFR data comparable to other economic statistics?
QFR data will not necessarily agree with other financial and industrial statistics, whether based upon a sample or a complete canvass.

  • QFR data are tabulated and published by consolidated corporate enterprise industry and asset size, which may differ from industry and size classifications based on individual business locations or establishments.
  • The corporations' QFR submissions generally embody the accounting conventions adopted for financial reporting purposes.
  • QFR data are based upon a changing sample of audited, unaudited, and estimated reports required to be submitted within 25 days after the end of each quarterly reporting period, by corporations that are not necessarily identical entities from quarter to quarter.
  • Aggregated for any four consecutive quarters, the QFR data will differ from similar aggregations of finalized and audited annual reports for accounting years that are not necessarily identical from corporation to corporation.

20. Is this survey mandatory?
Yes, your response is required by law. Title 13 of the U.S. Code requires businesses and other organizations selected in the sample to answer the questions and return the report(s) to the Census Bureau. The law also provides that copies retained in your files are confidential and immune from legal process. In addition, reported data are exempt from requests made under the Freedom of Information Act.

21. Who uses the data?
Users of QFR data include:

  • The Bureau of Economic Analysis uses these data for the nation's Gross Domestic Income Accounts estimates, and in developing the national accounts' input-output tables.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics uses these data as input to its Producer Price Indices, and in developing productivity measurements.
  • Trade and professional organizations use these data to analyze industry trends and benchmark their own statistical programs, develop forecasts, and evaluate regulatory requirements.
  • The media use these data for news reports and background information.
  • Private businesses use these data to measure market share, analyze business potential, and plan investments.

22. My firm is no longer in business. What should I do?
Please call the QFR staff toll-free at 800-272-4250 for further assistance.

23. Why do you need to know if I own other companies or if another company owns my firm?
We do not want to duplicate data if you are affiliated with another company that may already be in our survey.

24. If I need another copy of the QFR form, how can I obtain one?
Please visit the QFR web site at: http://www.census.gov/econ/qfr/, and select the tab Get Forms.

25. I'm a very small business. Why do you want information from me?
Taken together, small businesses have a real impact on the economy. Your firm was chosen from a scientifically selected sample of businesses and represents many other small businesses like yours.

26. How can I obtain the published data?
Please visit the QFR web site at: http://www.census.gov/econ/qfr/

  • Current-quarter published data are available on the main QFR web page.
  • Historical QFR data are available by selecting the tab Historical Data.

(FAQ1487)

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