This fall, hundreds of thousands of businesses in construction and manufacturing will receive 2012 Economic Census forms from the U.S. Census Bureau. Selected companies will receive forms in November, but most will get them in December.

The Economic Census is the official five-year measure of American business. Collected for years ending in "2" and "7," Economic Census results serve as the foundation for the gross domestic product (GDP) and other indicators of economic performance. The statistics are also used by trade associations, economic development agencies, and many individual businesses.

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke has called this census "indispensable to understanding America's economy." Taken every five years, the Economic Census "assures the accuracy of the statistics we rely on for sound economic policy and for successful business planning," said Bernanke.

There are a lot of interesting facts from the last Economic Census, available about electrical construction and maintenance at business.census.gov. Examples there illustrate how Census Bureau economic statistics are used by local businesses for marketing and planning, as well as by government agencies and researchers.