The North American Industry Classification System in the Current Employment Statistics Program

The Current Employment Statistics (CES) program currently uses the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) 2012. For information about changes related to the switch from NAICS 2007 to NAICS 2012, see

History of Industry Classification

After 60 years of use, the CES program retired the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system and replaced it with the NAICS. NAICS is the product of a collaborative effort between the United States (U.S.), Canada, and Mexico. A classification system shared across the three countries allows direct comparison of economic data across borders in North America.

NAICS codes are not related to SIC codes; rather NAICS is a completely redesigned way of coding industries. NAICS recognizes hundreds more businesses than SIC did, largely in the fast-growing service sector.

The U.S. Census Bureau issued a notice, available at, making NAICS effective in the U.S. in April 1997 and published the first NAICS U.S. manual in mid-1998. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) did not transition to the first version of NAICS, NAICS 1997. Instead, NAICS 2002 was the first version implemented by BLS, and the CES program converted from SIC to NAICS in June 2003. Reviews of NAICS are scheduled every five years; NAICS 2012 is the most current version. See Table 1 below for NAICS conversion implementation dates in the CES program. For information about how NAICS revisions impact other BLS programs, see

Table 1. NAICS Conversion Implementation Dates for the CES Program
Conversion Reference Month Implemented Date Released

SIC to NAICS 2002

May 2003 June 6, 2003

NAICS 2002 to NAICS 2007

January 2008 February 1, 2008

NAICS 2007 to NAICS 2012

January 2012 February 3, 2012

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SIC to NAICS Comparison

Industry Grouping

NAICS has twice the number of aggregate industry groupings as SIC. The highest level of NAICS classification is called the sector, and corresponds roughly to the division in SIC. There are 20 broad sectors in NAICS, compared to only 10 divisions in SIC. Table 2 displays NAICS sectors; Table 3 displays SIC divisions. The conversion to NAICS increased detail in services, with new sectors such as information; professional, scientific, and technical services; and administrative and support and waste management and remediation services, and established a new sector, accommodation and food services.

Table 2. NAICS Sectors
Sector Description


Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting


Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction








Wholesale Trade


Retail Trade


Transportation and Warehousing




Finance and Insurance


Real Estate and Rental and Leasing


Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services


Management of Companies and Enterprises


Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services


Educational Services


Health Care and Social Assistance


Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation


Accommodation and Food Services


Other Services (except Public Administration)


Public Administration

Table 3. SIC Divisions
Division Description


Agriculture, Forestry, And Fishing








Transportation, Communications, Electric, Gas, And Sanitary Services


Wholesale Trade


Retail Trade


Finance, Insurance, And Real Estate




Public Administration

For purposes of analysis, the U.S. Economic Classification Policy Committee aggregated NAICS sectors into groupings called "supersectors." The CES program publishes data for the supersectors that are within the scope of the CES program; excluded are agriculture and private households. All publically-owned establishments are classified in government. Further information regarding industry grouping in CES is available at

Industry Coding

The numeric system of NAICS coding has no relationship to that of SIC. The new system provides five levels of classification (compared to four in SIC) in detailed codes that have a maximum of six digits (up from four in SIC) and detailed classifications called "U.S. Industry" (instead of "Industry" in the SIC). NAICS is organized such that industries are comparable across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico at the 5-digit level, called the "NAICS Industry" level. The sixth digit of a NAICS classification may be used differently in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Table 4 below is a comparison of the organizational structures of SIC and NAICS:

Table 4. SIC versus NAICS Coding Structure
Level Code1 Example2 Level Code1 Example2


Alpha D


XX 31

Major Group

XX 20


XXX 311

Industry Group

XXX 203

Industry Group

XXXX 3114


XXXX 2037

NAICS Industry

XXXXX 31141

U.S. Industry

XXXXXX 311411

1 Xs denote digits.
2 Example denotes frozen fruit, juice, and vegetable manufacturing industry for both SIC and NAICS.

Series ID Structure

The structure of the series code under NAICS for CES (as used for the LABSTAT database) is slightly different from the CES series codes used under SIC structure. The survey abbreviation for the NAICS series is "CE" and the survey abbreviation for the SIC series is "EE." In addition, the industry code under NAICS expanded to six digits, as opposed to four digits under SIC, to handle the longer NAICS code.

Series code structure example under NAICS for CES national series:  CEU3133531101
Positions Example Value Field Name All Possible Values


CE Survey Abbreviation CE


U Seasonal Adjustment Code S,U


31335311 Industry Code 00000000 through 90932999


01 Data Type Code 01 through 99

Series code structure example under SIC for CES national series: EES00000001
Positions Example Value Field Name All Possible Values


EE Survey Abbreviation EE


S Seasonal Adjustment Code S,U


000000 Industry Code 000000 through 959000


01 Data Type Code 01 through 83

Industry Classification

NAICS classifies each establishment into a detailed industry based on the production processes it uses. Under the SIC system, some establishments were classified according to production processes, but others were classified using different criteria, such as class of customer. Thus, reclassification under NAICS substantially changes the number and composition of businesses included in certain sectors. Examples of how the production-based concept transformed industrial classification are found in wholesale and retail trade and in auxiliary establishments. Under SIC, wholesalers and retailers were classified according to the class of customer they served. Instead, NAICS groups them according to how each establishment operates. Retailers typically sell merchandise in small quantities, using public-oriented methods like mass-media advertising and high-traffic locations. Wholesalers, on the other hand, are often closed to the public, sell goods in large quantities, and use business-oriented sales methods such as specialized catalogs and warehouse locations. Thus, establishments previously considered to be engaged in wholesale trade, such as the sale of used auto parts or office furniture could be considered retail trade if they are open to the public. Auxiliary establishments, which provide services such as warehousing, personnel, or data processing to other organizations within the same company, are classified in the same industry as their parent companies under the SIC. NAICS, however, classifies these establishments according to the services they provide.

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CES Series Published Under NAICS

Publication of CES series under NAICS began with the release of May 2003 data on June 6, 2003. CES no longer produces or publishes SIC-based data; however, the SIC database is available with data through April 2003. For a table of currently published CES series, see

Annual Updates Affecting CES Published Series

All CES series are evaluated annually for sample size, coverage, and response rates. This review may result in changes to the published series. Information regarding the most recent annual review can be found at

Industry Classification Updates Affecting CES Published Series

NAICS 2007 to NAICS 2012 Conversion

With the release of January 2012 data on February 3, 2012, CES updated the national nonfarm payroll series to the NAICS 2012 from the NAICS 2007 basis. The conversion to NAICS 2012 resulted in minor content changes within the manufacturing and the retail trade sectors, as well as minor coding changes within the utilities and the leisure and hospitality sectors. Several industry titles and descriptions also were updated. All employee (AE) series are published at a more detailed level than all employee hours and earnings, production employee, women employee, or production employee hours and earnings series, collectively called non-AE series. The non-AE series were sometimes unaffected or affected at a less-detailed level than the AE series.

Further information about the NAICS 2012 conversion for both the AE and non-AE series is available at

The full concordance between NAICS 2007 and NAICS 2012 codes is available through the U.S. Census Bureau at

NAICS 2002 to NAICS 2007 Conversion

With the release of January 2008 data on February 1, 2008, the CES national nonfarm payroll series updated to the NAICS 2007 from the NAICS 2002 basis. The conversion to NAICS 2007 resulted in minor definitional changes within manufacturing, telecommunications, financial activities, and professional and technical services. Several industry titles and descriptions also were updated.

Further information about the NAICS 2007 conversion is available at

The full concordance between NAICS 2002 and NAICS 2007 codes is available through the U.S. Census Bureau at

SIC 1987 to NAICS 2002 Conversion

With the release of May 2003 data on June 6, 2003, the CES national nonfarm payroll series underwent a number of changes. The basis for industry classification changed from the SIC 1987 to the NAICS 2002. NAICS replaced the SIC system. The CES survey published national data on a NAICS 2002 basis with the release of May 2003 data on June 6, 2003. SIC-based data is no longer produced or published; it is still be available but not updated past April 2003.

Further information about the NAICS 2002 conversion is available at

The full concordance between SIC and NAICS 2002 codes is available through the U.S. Census Bureau at

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Using the Census NAICS Web Page

More information about NAICS is available through the U.S. Census Bureau at The site includes NAICS search tools for NAICS 2002, NAICS 2007, and NAICS 2012, concordances between NAICS updates, and more.

NAICS Searches

The NAICS search boxes allow keyword and code searches. Enter the keyword or code in the search box on the left of the page and click the appropriate search button. Keyword search results are listed in ascending NAICS code order and include all NAICS codes with the keyword in the description. Code search results are listed in ascending NAICS code order and include all NAICS codes that begin with the code entered. More detailed, related NAICS codes will display if the code entered is less than six digits. Further information about a NAICS code is available by clicking on the NAICS code hyperlink.


Concordances identify direct relationships between classification systems and are available on the left of the main page under "Downloads/Reference Files/Tools" via the "Concordances" link. (Note: Other tools, including full NAICS manuals, are available within this section as well.) The Concordances page includes a table of recent concordances. Click the "XLS" hyperlink next to the appropriate concordance to open the file.

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Last Modified Date: April 7, 2017