WASHINGTON—This month, 5 million U.S. businesses, including 200,000 businesses in the manufacturing sector, will receive the 2002 Economic Census forms.

Every 5 years, the Economic Census develops a comprehensive picture of the U.S. economy from the national to local level. It is the benchmark for measuring 96 percent of the gross domestic product and the foundation for most U.S. economic indicators. It also provides reports on industries and data for states, counties and communities.

Data covering 2002 will be collected and processed during 2003, and the first data will be released in early 2004. The Economic Census will yield over 1,600 data products, with information on more than 1,000 industries and over 50,000 geographical areas.

With this census, there will be several "firsts," including:

  • The first official measure of e-commerce for all industries.
  • New information on changing business supply-chain functions.
  • The first information on leased employees in businesses.
  • Initial use of the North American Product Classification System for products in about 85 service industries.
  • Expanded information on purchased services and classes of customers.
Law requires that these forms be completed and returned by Feb. 12, 2003. And several initiatives will be used to make it easier for businesses to complete their census forms. About 3.5 million locations will be able to file forms electronically. The Census Bureau also has an Internet help site (www.census.gov/econhelp) for businesses. A toll-free help line (800-233-6136) will be answered during business hours (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday).