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An industry is a group of companies that are related in terms of their primary business activities. In modern economies, there are dozens of different industry classifications, which are typically grouped into larger categories called sectors.
Individual companies are generally classified into industries based on their largest sources of revenue. For example, an automobile manufacturer might have a small financing division that contributes 10% to overall revenues, but the company will still be universally classified as an auto maker for attribution purposes.
The Federal government classifies industries and assigns each a code number in order to promote the comparability of statistics. NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) codes were adopted in 1997 to replace the old Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system. The codes can be searched using online databases and web resources to locate specific industry information.
Industry codes have been revised over the years and some code numbers have changed. It is important to be careful when comparing data from different publishers and over a long period of time. Beginning with the 1997 Economic Census, the Census Bureau began using a new North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) (pronounced "nakes") which is more closely aligned with international codes. Many commercial publications have converted to NAICS, but some still use SIC codes.
Find NAICS and SIC codes for a specific industry using one of the resources below: