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Industry Information: Home

Background Information

An industry is defined as the people or companies engaged in a particular kind of commercial enterprise. It is a basic category of business activity. The term industry is sometimes used to describe a very precise business activity (e.g. semiconductors) or a more generic business activity (e.g. consumer durables). If a company participates in multiple business activities, it is usually considered to be in the industry in which most of its revenues are derived.

North American businesses are classified for the purposes of statistical research. Economic units (people or companies) that use like processes to produce goods or services are grouped together. This "production-oriented" system means that statistical agencies in the United States will produce data that can be used for measuring productivity, unit labor costs, and the capital intensity of production; constructing input-output relationships; and estimating employment-output relationships and other such statistics that require that inputs and outputs be used together.

The United States has a new industry classification system. On April 9, 1997, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced its decision to adopt the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS pronounced Nakes) as the industry classification system used by the statistical agencies of the United States. NAICS replaced the 1987 Standard Industrial Classification (SIC).

Library Resources to Aid Industrial Research

  • Standard & Poor's
    The "Industry Survey" component contains detailed full-text surveys of 52 designated industries. You'll find an industry profile, key industry ratios and statistics, industry trends, and much more.
  • Encyclopedia of American Industries 
    Contains an essay on every industry recognized by the SIC system. Arranged by SIC code.
  • Encyclopedia of Emerging Industries
    Profiles industries and businesses that have grown significantly in the recent past or are expected to grow significantly in the near future.
  • Encyclopedia of Global Industries 
    Industry articles analyze key companies and how the industry has integrated with the global economy.