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PrintStats was created by coordinating the data from many US government programs, especially County Business Patterns. This annual data set describes the US economy by industry, and reports the number of US business establishments, and details about their nature, especially their size, number of employees, and payrolls.

Sometimes demographic data analyses are conducted by those familiar with market research and economics. But there are many applications in which business executives can use these data. These are described in the document “How to Use PrintStats.” There is also a “Key Terms and Definitions” document that should also be consulted as it explains some of the terminology of demographics and also describes the government data sets used in PrintStats.

It is also important to understand the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS), the numerical industry identification system that organizes industry data the government collects. There is a separate document that describes the industries covered in PrintStats. This is important: the government data collection processes were not designed to fill business needs, but that of government agencies and departments, in terms of regulations, tax compliance, economic actions, and other factors. Because the data are publicly available, business executives can use them without having to incur the direct cost of creating the data themselves. These data don’t fit business needs perfectly or in as timely a manner as would be preferred, but they can be used in a manner that fills information needs as best as possible. Knowing the definitions of each NAICS also means that you are aware of what is not included in each NAICS. Often that is very important.

This table shows the range of reports that were used in the development of the PrintStats data. Each of them are available online in data base form. They often have different purposes and goals, which means that an understanding of their methodologies is important. It is a valuable exercise to combine knowledge gained from each of these reports to create a more usable and comprehensive perspective about the industry.


 Data Source   Coverage   Frequency    Establishments   Revenues/Shipments   Employment  Payroll  CapEx 
 County Business Patterns (CBP)     All Industries   Annual  Detailed     Detailed   Detailed    
 Nonemployer Statistics     All Industries   Annual  Total by Geography   Total U.S.     Total U.S.   
 Current Employment Statistics     All Industries   Monthly        Total U.S.   
 Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW)     All Industries   Quarterly   Total by Geography         
 Manufacturers' Shipments, Inventories, and Orders (M3)     Printing   Monthly    Total U.S.       
 Quarterly Services Survey     Publishing and Content Creation   Quarterly     Total U.S.       
 Federal Reserve Industrial Production     Printing   Monthly          
 Annual Survey of Manufacturers     Printing and Packaging   Annual    Total U.S.   Total U.S.   Total U.S.   Total U.S. 
 Economic Census     All Industries   5 Years  Detailed   Detailed 
 Detailed   Detailed   Detailed  


The foundational data source for PrintStats is the annual County Business Patterns (CBP).  Additional background can be found here


Key Points


    • CBP is supported by many different data collection processes. The Census Bureau maintains The Business Register, a master database not available to the public, but based on the filings of Employer Identification Numbers (EIN) and the filings of tax and other reports such as the regular submission of payroll taxes on form 941 and programs such as the Economic Census (conducted every five years).
    • A business establishment is the most important element in this project, and why CBP is used. An establishment is defined as “a single physical location at which business is conducted or services or industrial operations are performed” and “establishment counts represent the number of locations with paid employees any time during the year.” An establishment is generally a single location. A firm can own more than one establishment.
    • Business establishments are classified by their number of employees and in assigned to an employee-size range. These ranges are standard across most all government reports and have been so for about 40 or more years.
    • The important date for CBP is March 12. The number of employees is that for the week in which March 12 falls. The date of the 12th is used for every month in which employment data are collected throughout the year, but for CBP purposes, only this date is used in the survey.
    • Businesses without employees are excluded from the establishment counts. For those sole proprietors, freelancers, partnerships, and other formats, their counts and total receipts are reported in Nonemployer Statistics and are reported at a very top-level data. These “microbusinesses” are not significant in many industries, but they need to be acknowledged in some circumstances. These freelancers and “moonlighters” and professional practitioners play a large role in the content creation markets ranging from photography, design, advertising, publishing, and others, enabled by modern computing and communications.


The Importance of "Employee Size Ranges"


An advantage of County Business Patterns is its reporting of establishments by employee size range, such as 1-4, 5-9, 10-19, and more. Small businesses are different from large businesses, and this is shown vividly in numerous reports. Large businesses consume more goods than smaller ones, and that consumption on a per-employee basis increases as plants get bigger. Printing companies with 50 or more employees are not large in number, for example, but represent about 70% of annual capital expenditures. This has obvious implications for sales targeting, distribution, marketing expenditures, and other decisions.

The following section offers more specific details of the development of PrintStats.


In More Technical Terms..


The core data for PrintStats are County Business Patterns data as released in April 2017. These data were retrieved and organized into PrintStats formats and templates for 2015 and 2013 establishments, employees, and payrolls.

The Commerce Department and Bureau of Labor Statistics have procedures to prevent the disclosure of data for individual establishments. The disclosures are most prevalent in small geographies or industries with few establishments. Though data may be withheld because of nondisclosure guidelines, the use of the nondisclosure rule is noted. ExpliStats and Strategies for Management developed estimations for these data on an establishment and employee basis. The estimated weights for the data that were developed were specific to each industry and size of establishment.

Data from other government information resources were used to estimate shipments and capital expenditures. These data required review and analysis by Strategies for Management and ExpliStats for their applicability and validity.

The Economic Census of 2012 and 2007, and other data resources were consulted to develop and test weighting factors for the estimation of industry shipments and capital expenditures on a per-employee basis for each employee size interval. Shipments per employee factors are higher for the next higher interval range, such as an employee in a 50-99 employee size establishment has a higher shipments per employee level than one in a 1-4 employee size establishment. This reflects the different productivity of workers that result from the product mix, print or other processes, nature of capital investment, division of labor and specialization, administrative efficiencies, and other factors. These estimates were tested to be consistent with other data for each industry in a systematic way to represent 2015 levels.

After 2015 data were complete, County Business Patterns establishment trends since 2010 were analyzed for each employee size, and forecasted using three different forecast methods. Each industry and each employee size trend were reviewed by the project managers and forecasts were selected for consistency with the most recent shipments and employment data from the Manufacturers’ Shipments (M3) reports, Quarterly Services Survey, and the monthly employment data. The most reasonable forecast estimate were used to guide the 2016 and 2017 estimates, and the 2022 national forecasts.

Trends in the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages were reviewed since 2010 through statistical trend analysis. These were used to create regional estimates for 2016 and 2017 and the 2022 forecast. The proportional regional relationships of the QCEW analysis were used to allocate the estimated and forecasted national data for those years to the regions. For those few workbooks that have state estimates for 2016 and 2017, the regional change rate was applied to all states in that region equally.

There are some industries that have significant numbers of freelance, independent, and sole practitioner workers. These workers are reported in Nonemployer Statistics but are not reported in detailed NAICS categories (i.e., graphic design services has a 6-digit NAICS in County Business Patterns, but the data are a portion of “specialized design services” in Nonemployer Statistics). Therefore, a method to allocate high-level NAICS to the more detailed NAICS was necessary. Proportions were developed for each industry based on the characteristics found in the corresponding County Business Patterns data. It has been the experience of Strategies for Management that Nonemployer Statistics closely mirror the demographic patterns found in the 1-4 employee size data, which is the smallest County Business Patterns employee size interval. Based on this assumption, ExpliStats developed allocation models for these industries, mainly in the publishing, advertising, graphic design, and commercial photography sectors.