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Doing Industry Research: A Resource Guide

North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS)

NAICS logo.

In 1997 the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) was developed to replace the SIC code and is designed to be renewed/revised every 5 years. It was developed jointly by the U.S., Canada, and Mexico in order to provide new comparability in statistics about business activity across North America. NAICS identified hundreds of new, emerging, and advanced technology industries and reorganized industries into more meaningful sectors — especially in the service-producing segments of the economy. Generally, the NAICS is much better at covering the industries that exploded in the 1990's — e-commerce and related areas, biotechnology, heavily technical areas, etc., but for some industries, notably retail, using SIC codes is better. For a further discussion go to Census' explanation.

While the system is organized somewhat like the SIC, the numbers are not necessarily comparable. However, the Economic Census web page does offer various conversion tools to bridge between the SIC and various NAICS versions so you can match data under the systems when doing research for the time frame when the government started to use the NAICS system or doing research comparing older data to current.

If you need to look at specific industries after NAICS were introduced you will need to identify the appropriate codes from each year the NAICS was updated as they have changed since they were first introduced. Additionally, Census is increasingly relying on NAPCS codes as well so review that section.

Below is the chart with the sector and description for the 2022 edition to understand its organization (this top level is pretty consistent from revision to revision). However, there were some changes that came with the 2022 to address changes in the economy. These included the addition of new and emerging industries, content revisions for selected areas, title changes, and clarification of a few industry definitions. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Major changes were made in the Information sector (Sector 51), with the elimination of Internet as a method of delivery distinction for publishing and broadcasting, and the elimination of 2017 NAICS Industry 519130, Internet Publishing and Broadcasting and Web Search Portals.
  • Major changes were made in the Retail Trade sector (Sector 44-45), with the elimination of the store/nonstore distinction, resulting in significant restructuring of the sector.
  • Major changes were made in the Finance and Insurance sector (Sector 52) which many of the 2017 NAICS codes collapsed and given new code umbers.
Sector Description
11 Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
21 Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction
22 Utilities
23 Construction
31 Food and Textile Manufacturing
32 Materials Manufacturing
33 Finished Product Manufacturing
42 Wholesale Trade
44-45 Retail Trade
48-49 Transportation and Warehousing
51 Information
52 Finance and Insurance
53 Real Estate and Rental and Leasing
54 Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services
55 Management of Companies and Enterprises
56 Administrative and Waste Management and Remediation Services
61 Educational Services
62 Health Care and Social Assistance
71 Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation
72 Accommodation and Food Services
81 Other Services (except Public Administration)
92 Public Administration