2022 Economic Census First Look estimates now available

The outlook provides a snapshot of American business and economic activity that underpins major economic indicators such as GDP.

The U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, D.C., unveiled preliminary estimates from the 2022 Economic Census through its Economic Census First Look 

The outlook provides a snapshot of American business and economic activity that underpins major economic indicators such as gross domestic product and producer price index.  

The census is conducted every five years and offers the most detailed data available on the economic landscape across national, state and local levels. 

Nick Orsini, associate director for economic programs at the Census Bureau, highlighted the integration of machine learning technology in this cycle’s data collection process.  

“For this cycle of the economic census, we combined years of experience conducting censuses with machine learning technology to create an adaptive collection instrument that helped respondents quickly and correctly identify their industry, products and services,” he says. “The improved efficiencies this created in data collection resulted in more effective data review that directly contributed to our ability to produce these First Look estimates earlier than we have in the past.” 

The 2022 census reports an increase in the number of establishments with paid employees, rising to over 8 million, up from 7.6 million in 2017 and 7.1 million in 2012. These establishments employed 140.0 million workers, with an annual payroll totaling $8.6 trillion. 

Key insights from the estimates include the following: 

  • The addition of businesses in support activities for agriculture and forestry, previously uncounted in the agriculture census, showing 14.9 thousand establishments employing over 324,000 workers and generating $59.3 billion in revenue. 
  • The retail trade sector leads with 1 million establishments, with professional, scientific and technical services, and health care and social assistance sectors closely following. 
  • The transportation and warehousing sector witnessed the most significant growth, with a 24.2% increase in establishments since 2017. 
  • The healthcare and social assistance sector employed the most individuals and had the highest payroll, while the professional, scientific, technical services sector saw the largest payroll growth. 
  • Wholesale trade led in total sales, followed by manufacturing and retail trade sectors. 

The 2022 Economic Census’s First Look estimates provide data at the 2- and 3-digit NAICS level for various industries.  

Detailed data releases are scheduled through March 2025, offering insights down to many 2- through 6-digit NAICS codes across multiple geographies. The preliminary estimates will be refined in subsequent releases, with a complete schedule available online. All dollar values are reported in current dollars, unadjusted for inflation. 

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