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2012 Economic Census Mailings Sent to U.S. Businesses to Create a Snapshot of the American Economy

2012 Economic Census

The Commerce Department's  U.S. Census Bureau is mailing nearly 4 million forms to American businesses, as the official twice-a-decade measure of the economy continues rolling out. Economic census forms began being mailed in October. The majority of the forms were mailed Monday of this week. Most U.S. businesses with paid employees will receive a form in the coming weeks. The Census Bureau will collect responses until the Feb. 12 deadline, unless an extension is filed.

The 2012 Economic Census covers more than 1,000 industries in all sectors of the private, nonfarm economy. To create a snapshot of the American economy, the census asks businesses to provide basic information on revenue, employment and payroll, and industry-specific topics such as the products and services they provide.

Every five years—in years ending in “2” and “7”—the economic census collects reliable business statistics that are essential to understanding the American economy. The economic census is the only source providing information on industry revenues and other measures of American business performance that are consistent, comparable and comprehensive across industries and geographic areas.  Press release

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If these forms are going to businesses why are they not being sent electronically? Every business in the country has at least one computer as well as an email address....The costs involved in physically mailing something should stop a federal agency from utilizing such an archaic method. Especially in this day and age of public outcry over federal spending!

Paperless options

The Economic Census, which is conducted every five years and is the cornerstone of measuring U.S. business performance, began collecting responses via an Internet option for the first time in 2012. Businesses are offered the opportunity to submit their information through an internet portal (, and included with the mailing packet were instructions on how to find information online to help businesses with filling out their form.

We are moving toward Internet response options for most surveys, including for the first time in 2013 for the American Community Survey, which annually provides the most detailed portrait of America's towns and neighborhoods. It is the 61st Census Bureau survey with Internet response, saving money on printing, paper, postage and processing costs, while maintaining or improving security.

The Census Bureau is bound by a strict law and solemn commitment to protect the confidential information we collect. Once we have the data, we don’t share the personally identifiable information with anyone – not even law enforcement.

We protect the identity of individuals, starting from the point at which the data are collected and continuing decades after the results are published as aggregate statistics. This includes protecting the addresses of residences we collect and maintain.

By law, the Census Bureau cannot publicly release any information that could identify an individual. These laws carry strict penalties. For example, the penalty for unlawful disclosure of information protected by Title 13 of the U.S. Code is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment of up to five years, or both.