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Programs and Surveys Contributing to Small Business

The Census Bureau has statistics from several censuses, programs and surveys that allow users to find business categories, by size, including small businesses, and opportunities for small businnesses, such as government contracts.

The stats come from the following:

Small Business Pulse Survey

The Small Business Pulse Survey measures the impacts on our nation’s small businesses and changes in business conditions caused by the coronavirus. The data are available by sector and state for the fifty most populous Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). Survey results give local, state, and federal officials essential real-time data to aid in policy and decision-making. In addition, the information aids businesses in making economic decisions and assists researchers studying the effects of the pandemic.

Business Formation Statistics (BFS)

Business Formation Statistics measures business initiation activity and the cycle from initiation to realized business formation. The BFS gives an early look at business formation activity within the U.S. at a detailed state level and regional level.

The BFS program helps businesses, policymakers, regional planners, and researchers assess the current state of early entrepreneurship at the national and state levels. BFS uncover the trends in business applications and formations with a timeliness, level of coverage, and frequency previously unavailable.

County Business Patterns (CBP)

County Business Patterns is an annual series that provides subnational economic statistics by industry. This series includes the number of establishments, employment during the week of March 12, first quarter payroll, and annual payroll. These statistics are useful for studying the economic activity of small areas; analyzing economic changes over time; and as a benchmark for other statistical series, surveys, and databases between economic censuses. ZIP Code Business Patterns (ZBP) statistics are available shortly after the CBP data release.

Data for establishments are presented by geographic area, 6-digit NAICS industry, legal form of organization (U.S. and state only), and employment size class: 1 to 4 employees, 5 to 9, 10 to 19, 20 to 49, 50 to 99, 100 to 249, 250 to 499, 500 to 999, and 1,000 employees or more. Businesses use the statistics for analyzing market potential, measuring the effectiveness of sales and advertising programs, setting sales quotas, and developing budgets. Governments use the statistics for administration and planning.

Nonemployer Statistics (NES)

Nonemployer Statistics is an annual series that provides subnational economic stats for businesses that have no paid employees and are subject to federal income tax. The series is the primary resource available to study the scope and activities of nonemployers at detailed geographic levels, such as states, counties, metropolitan and micropolitan areas. The stats consist of the number of businesses and total receipts by industry.

Annual Business Survey (ABS)

The Annual Business Survey (ABS) provides information on selected economic and demographic characteristics for businesses and business owners by sex, ethnicity, race, and veteran status. Further, the survey measures research and development (for microbusinesses), new business topics such as innovation and technology, as well as other business characteristics.

Economic Census (EC)

The Economic Census is the U.S. Government's official five-year measure of American business and the economy. The U.S. Census Bureau conducts the census in the years ending in 2 and 7. Communities, trade associations, chambers of commerce and businesses rely on this information for economic development, business decisions and strategic planning.

The 2017 Economic Census counted 4 million businesses, including large, medium and small companies representing all U.S. locations and industries. Respondents provided a range of operational and performance data for their companies. The Economic Census excludes some industries, such as schools and government-owned establishments.

Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD)

The Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics program produces cost effective, public-use information combining federal, state and Census Bureau data on employers and employees under the Local Employment Dynamics (LED) Partnership.

LEHD makes available several data products that may be used to research and characterize workforce dynamics for specific groups. These data products include online applications, public-use data, and restricted-use microdata. The Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI), LEHD Origin-Destination Employment Statistics (LODES), Job-to-Job Flows (J2J), and Post-Secondary Employment Outcomes (PSEO) are available online for public use.

Statistics of U.S. Businesses (SUSB)

SUSB covers most of the country's economic activity. This annual series provides detailed stats for U.S. business establishments with paid employees by geography, industry and enterprise size. The series excludes stats on nonemployer businesses, private households, railroads, agricultural production and most government entities.

Tabulations by employment size have changed over the years back to 1989 and currently range from less than 20, 20 to 99, 100 to 499, less than 500, to 500+. The Small Business Administration (SBA) helped develop these stats and partially funds the series. The SBA lists small business size standards on an industry-by-industry basis, but generally specifies a small business as having fewer than 500 employees for manufacturing businesses and less than $7.5 million in annual receipts for most non-manufacturing businesses.

Business Dynamics Statistics (BDS)

The U.S. economy is comprised of over 6 million establishments with paid employees. The BDS provides annual statistics on gross job gains and losses for the entire economy and by industrial sector and state. These stats track changes in employment at the establishment level, and thus provide a picture of the dynamics underlying aggregate net employment growth. The series also measures establishment births and deaths, and firm startups and shutdowns, and aggregates these stats by characteristics.

The BDS series provides annual stats since 1976 on the age and size of firms and establishments. The employment size categories are: 1 to 4, 5 to 9, 10 to 19, 20 to 49, 50 to 99, 100 to 249, 250 to 499, and greater for larger businesses. The source data for the BDS is the Longitudinal Business Database (LBD), a confidential database available to qualified researchers through secure Federal Statistical Research Data Centers. LBD source data permit the tracking of establishments and firms over time.

Small Business Lending Survey (SBLS)

The Small Business Lending Survey is a nationally representative survey that asks banks about their small business lending practices and volumes.

Public Sector Statistics

The Census Bureau’s Public Sector data provides statistics on economic activity of state and local governments. Public sector data track the changes in government activity over time. The data provide an economy-wide perspective when taken together with retail, wholesale, manufacturing, and services sector data.

Public sector surveys cover total number of local governments, employment and wages, public pensions, and state and local finance and taxation. The data are available by government function; for example, education, fire protection, administrative and legal services, infrastructure, parks and recreation, health services, and utilities.

Small businesses can learn about government activity within their community that may lead to contracts and other opportunities. Federal, state and local stats include spending for criminal justice, education, libraries, etc.

Survey of Business Owners (SBO)

The Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons (SBO) is the only comprehensive, regularly collected source of information on selected economic and demographic characteristics for businesses and business owners by gender, ethnicity, race and veteran status. The SBO combines data collected for the SBO with data collected from the Economic Census and from administrative records.

Included are all nonfarm businesses filing IRS tax forms as individual proprietorships, partnerships, or any type of corporation, and with receipts of $1,000 or more. The SBO covers large and small businesses, including firms with paid employees and firms with no paid employees. Employment size of firms range from no employees, to firms with 1 to 4 employees, 5 to 9, 10 to 19, 20 to 49, 50 to 99, 100 to 499, and 500 employees or more.

The Annual Business Survey replaces the five-year Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons (SBO).

Enterprise Statistics Program (ESP)

Enterprise statistics provide the only source of economy-wide, company-level information on the activities of enterprises. Enterprises are economic units comprising one or more establishments (single physical locations) under common ownership or control. The Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Federal Reserve Board use the stats to assess economic performance, and researchers use the ESP to study trends over time.

The Census Bureau published reports on enterprises from the 1954 through the 1992 Economic Censuses. The bureau discontinued the ESP after 1992, and then restored it for the 2012 Economic Census. Enterprise stats are collected annually as part of the Report of Organization Survey (COS), except for years ending in 2 and 7, when the stats are collected with the Economic Census.

The Enterprise Statistics program has been suspended.


The Census Bureau’s housing data present a comprehensive picture of housing in America. You’ll find a wide range of data on the size, age and type of American homes; home values, rents and mortgages, the housing and construction industry, and more.


Income is the gauge many use to determine the well-being of the U.S. population. Survey and census questions cover poverty, income, and wealth.


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