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Business Dynamics Statistics (BDS) Census Program

In this educational series, SBB Research Group summarizes key information from about these lesser-known—but highly important—surveys.

What is the Business Dynamics Statistics (BDS) Census Program?

The Business Dynamics Statistics (BDS) program was developed by the U.S. Census Bureau to track many of the common changes that occur within a business lifecycle. The BDS data covers many metrics including the opening and closing of business establishments, startups and shutdowns of firms, and job creation and loss. Information contained within the BDS is derived from the Longitudinal Business Database (LBD), which is a confidential database that is only accessible to specific researchers in Federal Statistical Research Data Centers.

The statistics collected from the program are subsequently published and broken down by industry sector, state, firm, and company size and age.

How BDS Data is Used

BDS data is used by researchers, policymakers, economists, and the overall business community for many reasons. Data collected can help develop an understanding of how companies function throughout the business cycle. Researchers also look at these statistics to better understand how companies contribute to job growth and productivity based on the size and age of the company.

Survey Eligibility

The Census Bureau's County Business Patterns (CBP) program determines the parameters and scope of the BDS. When calculating statistics, the BDS aggregates each establishment or location of a firm into one statistic for the overall firm based upon collective ownership. Companies under this definition may be considered a single-unit operation or a multi-unit operation. By aggregating all establishments under common ownerships into one statistic, metrics can reflect firm size more accurately.

Below is a list of sectors covered in the BDS:

  • Construction

  • Manufacturing

  • Transportation and Public Utilities

  • Agricultural Services, Forestry, and Fishing

  • Retail Trade

  • Wholesale Trade

  • Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate

  • Services

Within these sectors, the survey excludes certain employee types from the statistics: self-employed, domestic service workers, railroad employees, agricultural production workers, many government employees, employees on ocean vessels, and employees overseas. Employment is considered and calculated for full and part-time employees. Employees that are on paid leave, vacation, or holiday are included in calculations.

How Survey Information is Collected

BDS data is gathered from the Longitudinal Business Database (LBD). Information in the LBD covers a span dating back to 1976. Information is built by using annual snapshots from the Business Register through the Census Bureau. The annual data helps to depict a timeline for each business and establishment. That timeline further defines estimates of jobs created at business creation, expansion, and jobs at the end of a business lifecycle.

General Topics in the Survey

The information collected by BDS is broken down into tables classified under the following:

  • Employment: the creation of new jobs and the elimination of jobs

  • Job growth and slowdowns

  • Number of companies and establishments

  • Openings and closings of establishments

  • Number of startups and company shutdowns

By collecting statistics on the above topics, the BDS provides valuable snapshots of the periodic changes to businesses and economic conditions in the United States.


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