What are SIC and NAICS codes?

Both Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) and North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes identify a firm's primary business activity. For example a firm with SIC 571 primarily sells retail furniture. A firm with NAICS 311 is primarily engaged in food manufacturing. These codes were developed by the federal government and are used by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as well as many other U.S. statistical agencies. In 1997, OMB adopted NAICS as its new industry classification system. Every registered Washington firm is assigned a SIC or NAICS code. SIC codes can be up to four digits and NAICS codes can be up to six digits. The Quarterly Business Review (QBR) and the other Create a Report functions (i.e. Gross Business Income report, Statewide Taxable Retail Sales report, Local Sales/Use report) use these codes to group firms together to create informative and useful information. Because the national standard changed from the use of SIC codes to the use of NAICS codes, in November 2004 the Department stopped assigning SIC codes and now only assigns NAICS codes.

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What is the difference between a SIC and a NAICS code?

NAICS codes provide a greater level of detail about a firm's activity than SIC codes. NAICS includes 1,170 industries and SIC includes 1,004 industries. There are 358 new industries recognized in NAICS, 250 of which are services producing industries. Additionally, NAICS codes are based on a consistent, economic concept, while SIC codes are not. For NAICS codes, establishments that use the same or similar processes to produce goods or services are grouped together. Industries under the SIC codes were grouped together based on either demand or production. Unlike SIC codes, the NAICS codes were developed by the U.S. federal government in cooperation with Canadian and Mexican statistical agencies. Because both Canada and Mexico use NAICS for their industry classifications, government and business analysts are now able to compare directly industrial production statistics collected and published in the three North American Free Trade Agreement countries. Additionally, NAICS provides for increased comparability with the International Standard Classification System (ISIC, Revision 3), developed and maintained by the United Nations

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