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Imputing Missing Values in the US Census Bureau's County Business Patterns


  • Fabian Eckert
  • Teresa C. Fort
  • Peter K. Schott
  • Natalie J. Yang


The County Business Patterns data published by the US Census Bureau track employment by county and industry from 1946 to the present. Two features of the data limit their usefulness to researchers: (1) employment for the majority of county-industry cells is suppressed to protect confidentiality, and (2) industry classifications change over time. We address both issues. First, we develop a linear programming method that exploits the large set of adding-up constraints implicit in the hierarchical arrangement of the data to impute missing employment. Second, we provide concordances to map all data to a consistent set of industry codes. Finally, we construct a user-friendly, 1975 to 2016 county-level panel that classifies industries according to a consistent set of 2012 NAICS codes in all years.

Suggested Citation

  • Fabian Eckert & Teresa C. Fort & Peter K. Schott & Natalie J. Yang, 2020. "Imputing Missing Values in the US Census Bureau's County Business Patterns," NBER Working Papers 26632, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26632
    Note: DAE ITI LS PR

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lorenzo Caliendo & Fernando Parro & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg & Pierre-Daniel Sarte, 2018. "The Impact of Regional and Sectoral Productivity Changes on the U.S. Economy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 85(4), pages 2042-2096.
    2. Andrew B. Bernard & Stephen J. Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2013. "Testing for Factor Price Equality with Unobserved Differences in Factor Quality or Productivity," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 135-163, May.
    3. Lorenzo CALIENDO & Maximiliano DVORKIN & Fernando PARRO, 2016. "Trade and Labor Market Dynamics," Discussion papers 16050, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    4. Teresa C. Fort & Justin R. Pierce & Peter K. Schott, 2018. "New Perspectives on the Decline of US Manufacturing Employment," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 32(2), pages 47-72, Spring.
    5. Brad Hershbein & Lisa B. Kahn, 2018. "Do Recessions Accelerate Routine-Biased Technological Change? Evidence from Vacancy Postings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 108(7), pages 1737-1772, July.
    6. Fabian Eckert, 2019. "Growing Apart: Tradable Services and the Fragmentation of the U.S. Economy," 2019 Meeting Papers 307, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Fabian Eckert & Michael Peters, 2018. "Spatial Structural Change," 2018 Meeting Papers 98, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    8. Thomas J. Holmes & John J. Stevens, 2004. "Geographic concentration and establishment size: analysis in an alternative economic geography model," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(3), pages 227-250, June.
    9. Hornbeck, Richard & Moretti, Enrico, 2018. "Who Benefits From Productivity Growth? Direct and Indirect Effects of Local TFP Growth on Wages, Rents, and Inequality," CEPR Discussion Papers 12953, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Fabian Eckert & Sharat Ganapati & Conor Walsh, 2019. "Skilled Tradable Services: The Transformation of U.S. High-Skill Labor Markets," Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute Working Papers 25, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lukas Althoff & Fabian Eckert & Sharat Ganapati & Conor Walsh, 2020. "The City Paradox: Skilled Services and Remote Work," CESifo Working Paper Series 8734, CESifo.
    2. Raven S. Molloy & Charles G. Nathanson & Andrew D. Paciorek, 2020. "Housing Supply and Affordability: Evidence from Rents, Housing Consumption and Household Location," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2020-044, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    3. Fabian Eckert & Sharat Ganapati & Conor Walsh, 2020. "Skilled Scalable Services: The New Urban Bias in Economic Growth," CESifo Working Paper Series 8705, CESifo.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • L6 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing

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