The U.S. Census Bureau has updated 2022 Economic Census survey questions to keep up with the nation’s ever-changing business landscape from touchscreen checkout kiosks to 3D printing and cannabis retailers.
In January, the Census Bureau asked about 4.2 million U.S. businesses to complete surveys tailored to their primary business activity to capture data for the most comprehensive measure of the U.S. economy.
The economic census gathers information on business locations, workforce and sales by product and service type for most industries and geographic areas of the United States and U.S. Island Areas.
It is important for the Census Bureau to keep up with changes in technology and ask the right questions the right way to capture relevant information.
In preparation for this economic census, the Census Bureau worked extensively with industry experts and researchers to update the survey.
Additionally, it developed an adaptive collection instrument that utilizes machine learning to assist with the North American Industry Classification System and ensure respondents get the appropriate questions for their business.
This instrument also uses natural language processing to provide a smart search functionality for respondents to find products in the North American Product Classification System.
- Touchscreens and Kiosks. You see them in grocery stores, fast-food franchises and full-service restaurants, drugstores and hotel lobbies. Self-checkout touchscreens are popping up in more and more food outlets to display menus, take orders and even let you play games while waiting for food to be served. Touchscreens are also becoming common in venues like airports, movie theaters and medical offices.
- Additive manufacturing (3D Printing). Additive manufacturing – the recreation of a physical object from a computer-aided design (CAD) or digital 3D model – is another fast-growing technology. 3D printing is used by many industries (such as manufacturing of consumer goods, medical products, transportation and architecture) and is now even available for home use.
- Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID). RFID technology is used in products like chips for animals or tracking tags. Bluetooth tracking tags have skyrocketed in popularity to keep tabs on things like keys, wallets, luggage and even kids (by inserting them in their shoes or backpacks). Some stores also use this technology to tag products to track them and prevent thefts.
- Industrial and service robots. A question has been added to the census to gauge the use of industrial and service robots by businesses. These types of robots perform a range of operations including welding, cleaning, picking, packing and palletizing; and delivery.
- Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) and Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR). Packages and food can now be delivered to your doorstep by a robot guided by sensors-based systems and software. Driverless forklifts are also used in many industrial settings.
Expanding the Breadth of the Economic Census
Healthcare sector businesses were asked if they received revenue from telemedicine services in 2022. And while there are no specific questions about cannabis in the 2022 Economic Census, options to select cannabis as a primary business activity are available to retail and wholesale establishments.
The economic census also captures values of products and services made by establishments. Cannabis, cryptocurrency, electric vehicles and remanufacturing have all been added as options.
With these additions, the Census Bureau continues its tradition of keeping pace with modern times while maintaining the core statistics that serve as the benchmark of our economy.
Measuring the growth and changes in the economy will ensure these topics are captured in key measures of economic activity and that the economic census remains relevant in an ever-changing world.
For more information and answers to frequently asked questions, visit the 2022 Economic Census page.
Article courtesy of the US Census Bureau.