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What is an Economic Census: Overview of Economic Census


Definition of CENSUS from Wikipedia <>

CENSUS: The procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. The term is used mostly in connection with national 'population and door to door censuses' (to be taken every 10 years according to United Nations recommendations), agriculture, and business censuses. The term itself comes from Latin: during the Roman Republic the census was a list which kept track of all adult males fit for military service. The census can be contrasted with sampling in which information is obtained only from a subset of a population. Census data is commonly used for research, business marketing, and planning as well as a base for sampling surveys.


Here is a brief listing of the major types of Economics Censuses  for specific industries, topics, and types of businesses that are produced on a rotating cycle by the U.S. Census Bureau (a unit of the U.S. Department of Commerce), typically on a 5 year cycle in years ending with "2" and "7":

Agriculture (produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture) including farms, ranches, growers, nurseries, food producers, food processors, livestock and produce

U.S. Census of Governments including government funded schools, colleges and universities

Overall Census of U.S. Economy - Corporations, Business & Industry

Overall Census of U.S. Population, Individuals & Households

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics inlcuding employment, unemployment, cost of living, CPI, PPI, and productivity


Explore Census Data (U.S. Census Bureau) - central starting point to access a large collection of published reports and economic census topics.  Some examples of previously published reports include the following special topics:

  • Accommodation and Food Services including eating and drinking establishments
  • Administrative and Support Services including facilities, employment, travel, security & waste management
  • Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation including spectator sports, museusms, historical sites, and gambling
  • Construction including residential, commcercial, civil engineering, and specialty sub-contractors
  • Educational Services excluding elementary & secondary schools, and colleges & universities
  • Finance and Insurance including stock brokers, credit unions, insurance agencies & brokers, and REITs
  • Health Care and Social Assistance including ambulatory care, nursing care, and residential care facilities
  • Information including print, audio, video, movies, broadcast, telecom, and Internet
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises including holding companies, corporate, subsidiary & regional offices
  • Manufacturing including hundreds of sub-categories
  • Mining including oil & gas extraction, and support activities
  • Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services including accounting, auditing, legal, architectural, advertising, and computer/system design
  • Real Estate and Rental and Leasing including real estate agents, consumer good rentals, self storage units, industrial rentals, but excludes REITs
  • Retail Trade including car dealers, fuel stations, mail order, online stores, vending machines and use merchandise stores
  • Transportation and Warehousing including pipelines, couriers, warehousing, as well as transportation by air, by water, or on ground
  • Utilities inclduing electricity, natural gas, water & sewer
  • Wholesale Trade
  • Other Services includes repair, maintenance, laundry, personal services, religious, grantmaking, civic, and professional organizations, but excludes Government or /Public Administration

In addition to these sets of standardized censuses of the nation's economy, there are hundreds of other statistical resources produced by the U.S. government, including monthly reports on energy & fuels; monthly reports on money, credit & banking; quarterly reports on labor; annual reports of crime and of education.

This listing is just the tip of the iceberg. Depending on what specific product or service you are focusing on, there can be a specific U.S. government statistical report that focuses on something as narrow as quarterly data of refrigerated truck shipments of fresh fruits & vegetables moving from selected agricultural districts that were headed to 9 metropolitan destinations (see pages 2 & 3 of this PDF document)!

Please note that for most of these industry specific nationwide economic censues, the most recent information published is for the year 2017.

You can also view a grid chart showing you what economic censuses will be released in the near future, in the Census Bureau's  Data Release Schedule (which is available by Industry, selected Topics and by Geography).

Most of the Economic Census resources mentioned above include data & analytical reports that make use of NAICS or SIC codes to cluster & compare information about corporations and industries.  This is common for most governmental agencies in North America, as well as finding these code numbers in business oriented analytical resources produced by for-profit service firms.

Gary Klein (librarian for statistics)