The U.S. Census Bureau released 2012 data from two of its major related data programs — County Business Patterns and Zip Code Business Patterns.  Data surveyed include the number of establishments, employment during the week of March 12th, first quarter payroll, and annual payroll. 

County Business Patterns

County Business Patterns (CBP) issues the only source of complete and consistent county-level data for business establishments, with industry detail.  The Census Bureau updates the data annually about 1.5 years after the end of the reference period, and the site has comparable historical data from 1998 (the series itself has data dating to 1946).  CBP obtains data from census collections and administrative records for all establishments.  Other sources covering the same industries are often based on sample surveys.

ZIP Code Business Patterns

Zip Code Business Patterns (ZBP) data provide the number of establishments by employment-size classes for detailed industries.  Data are also available for metropolitan and micropolitan areas.  One advantage of this source is that it includes data from U.S. island territories not readily available from other sources, and the data are available from at least 2008 forward.  Coverage includes Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa.

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The CBP and ZBP data can be invaluable, especially for territories for which other data are scarce or nonexistent.  It is possible to estimate annual, quarterly, or weekly earnings from these data, bearing in mind that number of employees does not necessarily correspond with any of the payroll periods reported.  There are data for 19 industries included.  The breakouts by establishment size include the number of establishments.  At the zip code level, however, the only data available are for the number of establishments by size without earnings or employment counts. 

Other Useful County or Zip Code Level Data Sources 

Other datasets available may have more detail on other employment variables, and provide total employment counts.  For example, the Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) from the Census Bureau has incorporated these types of data, so that is another source for economic analysis. 

Data users also may find it useful to compare data from these sources with data available from other Census Bureau surveys in the American FactFinder, such as the American Community Survey (ACS)