We’re all familiar with the decennial census that has been conducted in every year ending in “0” since 1790. Most of us, however, are unfamiliar with the Economic Census that is being administered this fall.
The Census Bureau will be mailing more than 4.2 million forms to businesses across the country, including some 130,000 here in Michigan. So watch your mail and be sure to take the time to complete the survey form if your business happens to receive one.
Wondering why you should take the time to fully and accurately complete the Economic Census? For starters, the information collected provides researchers, trade associations and lawmakers with a detailed look at employment, payroll, sales and other important economic data at the industry level and by local market area. Associations like MRA, for example, can use economic census data to show how retail sales are impacted over time as a result of new regulations, tax changes or other such factors.
Researchers, including the team here at Anderson Economic Group, also rely on the data for our economic impact, market feasibility and economic strategy work. The Economic Census is even used in estimating Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by industry and by state.
You, personally, have probably used economic census data, either directly or indirectly. Did you ever wonder where the information comes from to identify that apparel sales in a local market are below average, and that there is an opportunity for a new business to be supported? Your responses on the economic census provide the answers. Ever use data to compare your sales per employee to the industry average? If so, you have used economic census data and can see how important accurate responses are.
The economic census survey is also relatively short and quick to complete, either in paper form or online. Each type of business gets a custom form (for example, clothing stores and car dealerships are asked different questions) with about 20 questions. The information requested is straightforward, and most managers and owners will be able to provide answers without having to dig into past records and reports. Topics covered include business location, length of operations, employment and payroll, sales by customer type (individuals, wholesalers, businesses), and sales and receipts by type of item sold.
Plus, your response is required by law, should you receive an economic census form, and all responses are confidential (Title 13, U.S. Code).
The forms for the 2012 Economic Census will be mailed between October and December 2012, and responses are due by February 12, 2013. The results will be made public beginning in late 2013, with more detailed data being released in 2014.
If you would like more information on the Economic Census, please visit www.business.census.gov. The site provides helpful information on how to complete the survey, as well as access to economic statistics for more than 1,000 industries and 15,000 products and services at the national and local levels.
Scott Watkins is a senior consultant and director of the market and industry analysis practice area at Anderson Economic Group, LLC. The firm provides economic, policy, and market analysis services, including market opportunity assessments, location analyses, site selections, demographic analyses and business valuations.
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