U.S. Business Establishment Statistics

Business Establishments

In 2016, U.S. employees worked at

7,757,807 establishments

—Census Bureau, County Business Patterns

The County Business Patterns (CBP), released annually by the U.S. Census Bureau, provides detailed economic data on business establishments.

An establishment is a single location where business or other operations take place. Establishments should not be confused with companies or other enterprises: one firm may operate multiple establishments throughout the United States. Non-profit and government organizations may also operate multiple establishments. 

How many establishments are in each industry sector?

The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) divides up businesses and other establishments into industry sectors. The chart above shows the number of establishments in each major sector.

While NAICS does include the public sector, CBP data excludes most government establishments—with the exceptions of wholesale liquor establishments (NAICS 4248), retail liquor stores (NAICS 44531), federally-chartered savings institutions (NAICS 522120), federally-chartered credit unions (NAICS 522130), and hospitals (NAICS 622).

How does the number of establishments vary by their employee count? 

This chart shows the number of establishments broken down by their "size class." Size class groupings are derived from the number of employees reported during an establishment's mid-March pay period. Employees on paid sick leave, holidays, and vacations are included in this figure; however, sole proprietors and partners of unincorporated businesses are not counted as employees.  

The "1 to 4" group also includes establishments with no employees reported in March, but that nevertheless paid wages to at least one employee sometime during the year. 

How many establishments are corporate, non-profit, or other forms of organization?

Corporations are businesses treated as separate legal entities, distinct from their members. S-Corporations are a special kind that do not pay federal income taxes; instead, their shareholders must report the S-Corp's income and losses on their tax returns.

Sole proprietorships and partnerships are unincorporated businesses with one or multiple members, respectively.

Non-profits are organizations that use surplus funds directly, rather than distributing them as profit to owners or shareholders. Most non-profits are exempt from income taxes.  

Note that "Government" here only includes employees of government-run wholesale and retail liquor establishments, federally-chartered savings institutions and chartered credit unions, and hospitals. Other government employment data is excluded from the CBP series. 

More Information

County Business Patterns: Glossary
County Business Patterns: Methodology
Census Bureau: Home