At A Glance

Noteworthy Characteristics

  • Data are released in a series of related data sets that include statistics on core business, industry, geographic area, and zip codes.
  • Data are used by government agencies, businesses, entrepreneurs, researchers and others for numerous purposes, including developing public policy, locating business markets, evaluating industry growth, assisting local businesses, and research.
  • Provides contextual information on economic conditions that may be useful in studying childhood obesity.
  • Includes all employer establishments in covered industries in the U.S.



To provide a detailed portrait of the United States (U.S.) economy, from the national to the local level.

Target Population

Business establishments in the U.S.


Began as integrated survey in the 1950s. Conducted every 5 years since 1967. Most recent year conducted was 2012. The 2017 Economic Census is being released on a flow basis between September 2019 and December 2021. Keep track of what is being released here.


Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce


Sample Design

The Economic Census is a census, not a survey.

Sample Size

Census of 5.7 million employer establishments.

Special Note(s)

Learn more about the Economic Census sampling and methods.

Key Variables


U.S. Census regions and divisions, states, counties, metropolitan and micropolitan areas, zip codes.


Expenses, by category
Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) codes
Industry classification code
Number of paid employees
Products and services by type

Data Access and Cost

Data Availability

Obtain entire files from most programs.


Downloads from American FactFinder are available free of charge. The Census Bureau can do special tabulations for a fee. Special tabulations are prepared on a cost basis. A request for a cost estimate, as well as exact specifications on the type and format of the data to be provided should be directed to the Chief of the Economic Census Branch, Company Statistics Division, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington DC 20233-6400.

Special Note(s)

Researchers who have an approved project can access micro data sets at Census Research Centers under strict confidentiality rules. Learn more.


Geocode Variable(s)

Census regions and divisions, states, counties, metropolitan and micropolitan areas, and zip codes. Also Puerto Rico and Island Areas commercial regions.

Existing Linkages

None noted.

Special Note(s)

For the 2007 Economic Census, a cutoff of 5,000 or more population or jobs was used to identify the economic places valid for publication. For the 2012 Economic Census, these cutoffs have been reduced to 2,500, resulting in nearly 5,000 new places to be published in the Census. The 2012 Economic Census also reflects any boundary and/or title changes for counties, economic places, and other geographic areas.

Selected Publications


Lewis LVB, Sloane DC, Mascimento LM, Diamant AL, Guinyard JJ, Tancey AK, Flynn F. African Americans’ access to healthy food options in south Los Angeles restaurants. American Journal of Public Health 2005;95(4):668-673.


Mehta NK, Chang VW. Weight status and restaurant availability: A multilevel analysis. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2008;34(2):127-133.