Tuesday, February 19, 2013

North American Industry Classification System

Classifying economic activity, by statistical agencies, has been a standard of the United States Government since the 1930’s.  It was known as the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC).   In 1997 Mexico and Canada joined with the United States in a statistical collaboration, and the name was changed to NAICS (pronounced nakes), the North American Industry Classification System.  Every five (5) years a new version of the NAICS manual is released.  The 2012 edition has included changes between 2007 and 2012.

Statistical agencies use NAICS to classify businesses so that the collection, analysis, tabulation, presentation and publication of data related to the economy can be produced.  There are definitions for each industry as well as background information which allows for common definitions and analyses for the three (3) countries.  A single physical location is classified by the primary business activity taking place.  Changes in the economy have resulted in the addition of coverage of both the information and service sectors and factory less production.
The NAICS numbering system has a  two to six-digit classification system.  United States industries have a six digit code.   An example of a NAICS code, if you were looking for bagels made in a commercial bakery would be:

311      Food Manufacturing
  3118     Bakeries and Tortilla Manufacturing
     311812     Commercial Bakeries 

The NAICS volume is available in the State Library, room 341 of the State House at the Reference Desk.  It is also available on our public access computers at http://www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/.