Industry of employed person

Status: This standard was approved as a departmental standard on June 21, 2010.


Industry refers to a generally homogeneous group of economic producing units, primarily engaged in a specific set of activities. An activity is a particular method of combining goods and services inputs, labour and capital to produce one or more goods and/or services (products). In most cases, the activities that define an industry are homogeneous with respect to the production processes used.

Employed person refers to those who, during the reference period, had a labour force status of 'employed'. That is, those who, during the reference period:

(a) Did any work at all at a job or business, that is, paid work in the context of an employer-employee relationship, or self-employment. This also includes persons who did unpaid family work, which is defined as unpaid work contributing directly to the operation of a farm, business or professional practice owned and operated by a related member of the same household; or

(b) Had a job but were not at work due to factors such as their own illness or disability, personal or family responsibilities, vacation or a labour dispute. This category excludes persons not at work because they were on layoff or between casual jobs, and those who did not then have a job (even if they had a job to start at a future date).


Though industry applies to establishments, a person can be assigned an industry classification based on the establishment where he or she is currently employed or where he or she has been employed in the past.

Industry can be assigned based on the establishment associated with the person's main job or some other job. However, for industry to be collected through a survey, the person must be associated with an establishment.

For the Census of Population/National Household Survey, industry of person usually relates to the establishment associated with the job the person held in the reference week. However, if the person did not work during that week but had worked at some time since January 1 of the prior year, the information relates to the job held longest during that period. Persons with two or more jobs were to report the information for the job at which they worked the most hours.

Conformity to relevant internationally recognized standards

This standard uses the NAICS classification and definition of industry. The classification and its underlying principles are compatible with the International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC) which was originally adopted by the United Nations (UN) in 1948. Since then, ISIC has been revised in 1958, 1968, 1989, and, most recently, in 2008. This 2008 version of the classification is referred to as ISIC Revision 4. With these various revisions, the Council has recommended that member states adopt, as soon as possible, the latest version of the classification, with such modifications as necessary to meet national requirements, without disturbing the framework of the classification.

NAICS, like ISIC, was principally designed to provide a classification for grouping establishments based on the kind of activity in which they are primarily engaged. Whereas the main criteria employed in delineating the divisions, groups and classes of ISIC are: (a) the character of the goods and services produced; (b) the uses to which the goods and services are put; and (c) the inputs, the process and technology of production, it is the third criterion of ISIC that corresponds to the conceptual basis of NAICS. This makes it unique among industrial classifications in that it is based on a single criterion. A comparison between the ISIC Revision 4 sections and NAICS 2007 sectors shows that of the 21 ISIC sections, 14 have good or better comparability, 3 have mixed comparability, and 4 have poor comparability or comparison is not possible.

In addition to working to maintain coherence between NAICS and ISIC, international efforts have also focused on moving towards greater coherence between NAICS, ISIC and the Statistical Classification of Economic Activities in the European Community (NACE, Nomenclature statistique des activités économiques dans la Communauté européenne).


International Labour Office, Ralf Hussmanns, Farhad Mehran, and Vijay Verma, Surveys of economically active population, employment, unemployment and underemployment: An ILO manual on concepts and methods (Geneva, 1990).

Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Statistical Division, United Nations, Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses, Revision 2 (New York, 2008).


Additional information

Industry of other statistical units

The industry classification is principally designed for the classification of establishments.

However, the classification can be used to indicate the primary activity of any business unit. On the business register, all the statistical units of businesses (enterprises, companies, establishments and locations) are classified to the industry classification.

When statistics, such as financial statistics, compiled for statistical units other than establishments are classified to the industry classification for dissemination, the statistical unit for which the data are compiled and the extent to which the data can be compared to establishment-based production data should be clearly explained.

Persons can be assigned a derived industry classification. They may be categorized by the industry of the producing unit that employs them.


Relation to previous version

  • Industry of employed person June 21, 2010 to current

    This is the current standard.

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