U.S. Census Bureau and Puerto Rico Planning Board officials announced Tuesday the start of the question-and-answer cycle to gather data on the island’s economic activity. Local businesses will receive their economic census forms between October and December and must submit them by Feb. 12, 2013, officials from both agencies said in a joint news conference.
“The economic census provides more comprehensive detail about Puerto Rico’s economic activity than surveys can provide,” said Lee Wentela, chief of the U.S. Census’ Economic Census Branch, company statistics division. “Most economic survey results are presented at the Commonwealth level.”
In coming weeks, questionnaires will begin going out to establishments that were in operation during the census year. The economic census is conducted every five years, in years ending in “2” and “7.”
“All forms have been designed to be easier to read, complete, and file. There are nine variants of the census form for Puerto Rico, so most businesses will receive forms that are as relevant as possible to their particular business groups,” Wentela said.
The economic census collects information about businesses, summarizes it for each industry and geographic area, and publishes complete and accurate statistics. It is the only recognized source of data at the municipal level and breaks down data for the Commonwealth, planning regions, and municipalities, by income, annual payroll, employment and other sector-specific data.
Because it contains sensitive information, business responses to the economic census are kept confidential, said Lillyana Najafzadeh, survey statistician, Economic Census Branch.
The economic census is collected for all sectors, except agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, schools and universities and labor organizations, political and religious, agency officials said.
The findings to be released in 2015 will benefit both the public and private sectors alike, which as a result have the necessary tools to roadmap business plans, public policy development and statistical program quality control
“Small and large businesses use census statistics to develop business plans, locate facilities, define markets, assess competition, attract investment, manage sales, and evaluate efficiency,” he said. “Meanwhile, Industry professionals, economic analysts and business reporters use census statistics to assess industry growth and change, prepare economic forecasts, define legislative priorities, and produce educational materials.”
The Census Bureau and the Planning Board of Puerto Rico are collaborating on the content and questionnaire design, advertising efforts to remind the business community to fill out the forms and conduct a preliminary evaluation of the data.
For the first time, the 2012 Economic Census of Puerto Rico will include information about capital expenses for every sector. Additionally, it will provide information on legally required and voluntarily provided employee benefits. Participation in the census is mandatory, agency officials said.