Only 3.8% of Businesses Use AI to Produce Goods, Highest Use in Information Sector

Only 3.8% of Businesses Use AI to Produce Goods, Highest Use in Information Sector 769 435 Morris County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC)

Only 3.8% of Businesses Use AI to Produce Goods, Highest Use in Information Sector


Artificial intelligence (AI) is all the buzz these days, but a U.S. Census Bureau survey shows the technology is yet to be widely adopted by businesses.

Only 3.8% of businesses reported using AI to produce goods and services, according to the most recent Business Trends and Outlook Survey (BTOS) but it is more widely used in certain industries such as information and tech sectors.

The BTOS provides a bi-weekly snapshot of AI and its use by businesses. In September, we began asking businesses about their current and planned future use of artificial intelligence in addition to other key items such as revenues, employees, hours and inventories.

The BTOS measures business conditions and projections on an ongoing basis and is representative of all nonfarm employer businesses in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Defining AI

The BTOS questionnaire defines AI as computer systems and software able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as decision-making, visual perception, speech recognition and language processing.

Examples of AI technologies and applications include machine learning, natural language processing, virtual agents, predictive analytics, machine vision, voice recognition, decision-making systems, data analytics, text analytics and image processing.

While it may seem like AI is everywhere, BTOS shows the opposite. Based on survey responses, only an estimated 3.9% of businesses used AI to produce goods or services between Oct. 23 and Nov. 5, 2023. However, this usage varied widely among economic sectors (Figure 1).

Businesses in the Information sector reported greater levels of AI use than the national average: 13.8% of businesses indicated that they were currently using the technology.

The Information sector includes industries like software producers, computing infrastructure providers, data processing, web hosting and related services, which rely on various applications of artificial intelligence.

Businesses in the Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services sector also reported a large share (9.1%) of AI adopters compared to overall totals.

These high rates are not surprising as these sectors include industries (publishing, data processing and hosting, financial investment, motion pictures and sound recording) that typically rely heavily on data analysis, automated decision making, and word, image and sound processing.

More Businesses Plan to Use AI

Attitudes toward future AI adoption signal the near future.

Nationally, 6.5% of businesses plan to use AI in the next six months and the same trend holds true across many sectors surveyed.

The sectors that are currently big AI users of AI will continue to use the technology in the next six months but only 2.3% of businesses in Accommodation and Food Services, a lower adoption sector, plan to utilize it.

The BTOS AI findings are largely consistent with those of the 2019 Annual Business Survey (ABS), which found 3.2% of U.S. businesses used AI in 2018.

Adoption rates by sector are also generally consistent in both surveys, with the 2019 ABS also showing information and professional services had higher AI adoption rates than the national average.

The BTOS will continue to collect data on AI use to track if expectations that more businesses will adopt AI in the future will materialize.

We will ask BTOS respondents additional questions about AI use starting December 4. The supplemental questions are designed to provide insight into the specific types of AI businesses are using, how that usage is impacting their employment and how AI is changing the organization of their business. These questions will be asked about both current and future usage.

Article Courtesy of the US Census Bureau.