Skip to main content

Census Information in the Library: Economic Information

describes the Library's collection of Census material in print, microfiche and CD/DVD

Economic Censuses

The Economic Censuses are a set of surveys of economic activity taken every five years, the latest containing data collected in 2007. The Blume Library has reports in some series back to 1963. The yearly schedule has shifted somewhat, but for most of this period the Censuses are dated in years ending in -2 or -7. For example: 1992, 1997, 2002, 2007, etc.

The 2002 Economic Census is the last one for which the Library has printed or CD reports. We will not be receiving data in tangible form for later dates, but it is available online at Census.gov

Industry information in the Economic Census reports is arranged by NAICS (North American Industry Classification System–used beginning with the 1997 Censuses) or by SIC (Standard Industrial Classification–used through the 1992 Censuses). These coding systems classify types of businesses, products and services. If you need to compare data from older Censuses with newer ones, the Census Bureau web site provides this Bridge between NAICS and SIC.

Notes on the Economic Censuses

Schedules & Organization

All the Economic Censuses are on the same schedule, with a census taken in 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992 and 1997. The general organization of the information in the Economic Censuses printed reports is the same for each subject area: volumes of subject reports and volumes of geographic reports. Data is usually given for whole states and for all or at least selected Metropolitan areas.

Information that was published separately (in printed form) in the Censuses of Retail Trade, Wholesale Trade and Service Industries in 1970's and 1980's was published together in the Census of Business prior to 1972. These volumes are located at C 3.202/5:, for the years 1963 and 1967. CD-ROM reports return to the integrated approach, with all Economic and Agricultural Census reports appearing on one CD, starting with the 1987 Census.

The Census of Agriculture was on a different five-year schedule until 1982, when it meshed with the other Economic Censuses. Therefore, some of the Agiculture Census holdings listed in these pages will be for different years than the other series. For the first time in 1997, the Census of Agriculture was not conducted by the Census Bureau along with the other Economic Censuses, but was administered by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) under the Department of Agriculture.

Comparability of statistics

Comparability over time is possible to some extent with the Economic Censuses. But the Standard Industrial Classification scheme, by which most information in the reports was organized through 1992, underwent a drastic revision in 1972. Comparability of recent data with that from Censuses dated before this time, therefore, is essentially impossible. The introduction of NAICS in 1997 presents other continuity problems. Finally, there is also some variation of geographical definitions from Census to Census.

More information on comparability can be found in History of the Economic Censuses. C 3.253/3:982,987,992,997, includes chapters on comparability of statistics over time as well as discussions of data gathering, sample forms, definitions, etc., for the years indicated. The chapter in the 1997 edition on the NAICS system is particularly important for issues of comparability with previous Censuses, which used the SIC system.

For more details on Census geography look at the Geographic Reference Manuals. C 3.253:EC [yr.]-R-1, which gives numerical codes used to identify counties, places, metropolitan areas, etc. Editions for the 1977,1982, 1987 and 1992 Censuses are available.