February 2003

Economic Census 2002 Features Many ‘Firsts’

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Census Bureau mailed millions of 2002 Economic Census forms in December to capture new information on U.S. businesses.
Next to the decennial census of population and housing, the Economic Census is the biggest project carried out by the Census Bureau. Twice each decade it compiles a complete profile of the U.S. economy, from the national to the local.

E-commerce. The Census Bureau is gathering the first information on the e-commerce sales of practically every industry in the United States.

E-commerce includes sales, receipts, or revenue from any transaction completed over the Internet, extranets, electronic data interchange (EDI) networks, e-mail, or any other online system.

Leased employees. The 2002 Economic Census will collect information on the use of leased employees at all business establishments, rather than just permanent employees. Leased employees are those whose payroll taxes are filed with the IRS by an employee leasing company, not by the company where the work is performed.

Supply chain. The 2002 Economic Census will yield data on supply-chain relationships among those who manufacture goods, those who store and distribute goods, those who transport goods, and those who sell and bill for goods. Questions will identify whether certain functions are outsourced to other companies.

New industries and product classifications. The 2002 Economic Census completes work started in 1997 when the North American Industry Classifica-tion System (NAICS) was first implemented to replace the old Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system. NAICS 2002 includes substantial revisions for the construction and wholesale trade sectors, as well as selected changes in the information and retail trade sectors.

NAPCS 2002. Starting with the 2002 Economic Census, product lines in four service sectors will for the first time be classified consistent with a new international agreement with Canada and Mexico, as the first phase in implementing the new North American Product Classification System (NAPCS).

New Technology. New systems will make it much easier for businesses to respond with their information.

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan has said the economic census is “indispensable to understanding America's economy.” In addition to the Federal Reserve and other federal agencies, state and local officials use economic census data to design programs to promote business development. The private sector uses the data for activities such as developing business plans, calculating market share, and evaluating new business opportunities.

Data on more than 1,000 industries will be processed during 2003, with the first results expected in early 2004. The Economic Census will yield more than 1,600 reports and data products, to be published at www.census.gov/econ2002.

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