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April, 1986, Vol. 109, No. 4
The business services industry
sets pace in employment growth
Just as businesses purchase raw materials, machinery, or office equipment from suppliers, they also purchase services. These services may be highly technical, such as the development and sale of specialized computer software programs, or they can be more mundane, such as building cleaning and maintenance. Also, the need may be year round, such as for payroll processing, or temporary, such as for a fill-in receptionist. In any case, the use of contractors to supply certain types of services gives an employer considerable flexibility, and often is less expensive than hiring permanent employees to provide the same services. Business services is the fastest growing industry in the economy, and, while still small in the aggregate, may be representative of changes in the way many American companies are doing business.
The business services industry is made up of seven major industriies:1 advertising; consumer credit reporting and collection; mailing, reproduction, and stenographic services; services to buildings, including cleaning, maintenance, and exterminating services; personnel supply services, which includes both temporary help supply companies and employment agencies; computer and data processing services; and miscellaneous business services, which offer research and development, management and consulting, and protective services. These industries supply a variety of services to business establishments on a fee or contract basis. The heterogeneous mix of individual industries is also reflected in the diverse occupational distribution of employment in business services, which includes highly skilled managerial and administrative occupations, as well as lower skilled service occupations.
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1 BLS and other Federal and State agencies follow as closely as possible the Office Management and Budget's 1972 Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Manual to define and classify industries in the U.S. economy. Business Services (SIC 73) has seven component industries: advertising (SIC 731); consumer credit reporting and collection (SIC 732); mailing, reproduction, and stenographic services (SIC 733); services to buildings (SIC 734); personnel supply services (SIC 736); computer and data processing services (SIC 737); and miscellaneous business services (SIC 739).
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