U.S. Payroll Statistics

Payroll

Total U.S. payroll, 2016:

$6.435 trillion

—Census Bureau, County Business Patterns

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

Payroll includes all forms of compensation, including salaries, wages, commissions, dismissal pay, bonuses, vacation allowances, sick-leave pay, and employee contributions to qualified pension plans. Payroll is reported before deductions for social security, income tax, insurance, union dues, etc.

How is payroll distributed among industry sectors?

How does payroll vary by establishment size? 

An establishment is a single location where business or other operations take place. Establishments should not be confused with companies—one firm may operate multiple establishments throughout the United States.

This chart shows total payroll broken down by the "size class" groups of establishments. Size class groupings are derived from employment during establishments' mid-March pay period. 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 does payroll vary between corporations, nonprofits, and other forms of organization?

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

Partnerships and sole proprietorships are unincorporated businesses with multiple members or one member, 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.  

For corporations, payroll includes amounts paid to officers and executives. For unincorporated businesses, however, payroll does not include compensation of sole proprietors or partners.

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

More Information

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