Economic Census Blog January 2023
While the U.S. Census Bureau is popularly known as the leader of decennial census counts, it is also charged with conducting other surveys throughout the decade to help inform American decision-making. With each survey, the U.S. Census Bureau aims to strike the “best mix of timeliness, relevancy, quality and cost” to gather the data that define our nation’s people and economy. The U.S. Census Bureau cannot achieve its goal alone. Like the census count, the participation of all residents is key to ensuring that Americans can fully reap the benefits that the U.S. Census Bureau has to offer.
On January 31st, 2022, the U.S. Census Bureau mails out surveys for the 2022 Economic Census, a survey of businesses that is conducted only once every five years. The surveys are sent to more than 4.2 million businesses nationwide, and the operators of the businesses will be responsible for completing their surveys by March 15. Contributing to the nation’s most valuable source of public data is a civic duty, and if businesses neglect this duty, Americans could be stuck with inadequate data for years to come, influencing the decision-making of individuals, businesses, and policymakers.
What is the Economic Census?
The U.S. Census Bureau conducts more than fifty economic surveys each year, occurring monthly quarterly, or annually. As the most comprehensive survey, the Economic Census occurs only once every five years. The survey responses are used to develop national, state, and local economic statistics, providing insights based upon industry, geographic location, establishment and firm sizes, products, and revenue.
All U.S. Census Bureau data are free for public use, but processing the data takes time. Although responses to the survey are due March 15, 2023, the first data release from the 2022 Economic Census will be in March 2024. The final release of data based upon the 2022 Economic Census will be released in March 2026. You can learn how to access data from previous censuses here.
How Can the Economic Census Help My Business?
The statistics resulting from the Economic Census help inform business decisions. By providing business operators with data regarding the norm of their industry, geographic area, and similar establishments, the data from the Economic Census help decisions such as:
- Where to locate or expand a business;
- How much of a product to produce to match local demands;
- How much to compensate employees to remain competitive in the labor market; and
- Whether a business’s level of success is comparable to other businesses within their industry or community.
Many businesses use census data without knowing it. The U.S. Census Bureau conducts the most comprehensive data collections nationwide, so even if a business collects its own data or buys data from another party, their data collectors likely compare their collections to census data to ensure accuracy.
How Can the Economic Census Help My Community?
States and local communities need the statistics to measure their economic strength and wellbeing. Communities can use the data to learn which industries provide their residents with the most jobs and highest earnings, which helps leaders to evaluate how best to support the continued growth of such industries. Communities can also learn about new opportunities. For example, the data can be used to identify whether neighboring communities had success attracting a new industry or increasing the number of jobs available to residents. If its neighbors are successful, the community may invest in ventures to identify and replicate drivers of economic growth.
Do I Need to Complete a Survey?
If your business is one of the 4.2 million businesses receiving a survey in the mail, then yes, you need to complete the survey. The survey is not only required by law, but it is also a civic duty that provides valuable information to the nation. If you refrain from answering your survey, the U.S. Census Bureau will have a smaller sample size upon which to base estimates, risking the accuracy of their data. The survey is confidential, and the U.S. Census Bureau prioritizes privacy. No one will have access to your survey, nor will they be able to identify your business from the results.