About 55,000 businesses in the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area will receive economic census forms from the U.S. Census Bureau in December, part of an effort by the bureau to develop a comprehensive portrait of the American economy.
The information will be used to make public policy and will be available to the public to help companies make business decisions, said Thomas Mesenbourg Jr., associate director for economic programs at the U.S. Census Bureau.
Examples of how the free data could be used are for designing sales territories or evaluating new business opportunities, he said. Businesses can assess where they stand in the marketplace and research market shares, salaries, product and sales trends, and site locations.
“Economic census forms that businesses receive in December will tell us how we are changing as a nation,” Mesenbourg said.
The economic census is taken every five years in years that end in 2 and 7, between the population census taken every 10 years.
Almost all businesses that have paid employees will receive the forms, said Bob Marske, chief of customer and respondent outreach for the bureau. They will be asked to report information on employment, payroll and value of goods and services sold.
Businesses that receive forms are required by federal law to respond, and face a $5,000 fine for failure to act. Information about individual firms is kept confidential, and only aggregate industry data such as totals for industries or geographic areas are published, Marske said.
“Some companies will be concerned about sharing their information, but we have a long tradition of being very protective of information that individuals and businesses share with us,” he said. “Federal law protects that.”
The deadline to return forms is Feb. 12. Responses also can be filed electronically via the Internet.
The census bureau has been measuring the economy by various means almost since the founding of the republic. The agency started compiling the economic census in its current shape beginning in the 1930s, using the information as the foundation for economic statistics that are produced between the surveys, Marske said.
More information is available at www.business.census.gov.