North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Canada 2012

Preface and acknowledgements


Statistics Canada, the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI) (formerly the Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía e Informática) of Mexico and the United States Office of Management and Budget, through its Economic Classification Policy Committee, have jointly updated the system of classification of economic activities that makes the industrial statistics produced in the three countries comparable. The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) revision for 2012 is scheduled to go into effect for reference year 2012 in the United States, 2013 in Canada and 2014 in Mexico. NAICS was originally developed to provide a consistent framework for the collection, analysis, and dissemination of industrial statistics used by government policy analysts, by academics and researchers, by the business community, and by the public. Revisions for 2012 were made to account for our changing economies.

NAICS is the first industry classification system that was developed in accordance with a single principle of aggregation, the principle that producing units that use similar production processes should be grouped together. NAICS also reflects, in a much more explicit way, the significant changes in technology and in the growth and diversification of services in recent decades. Though NAICS differs from other international industry classification systems, the three countries continue to strive to create industries that do not cross two-digit boundaries of the United Nations' International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC).

The actual classification reveals only the tip of the work carried out by staff from INEGI, Statistics Canada, and U.S. statistical agencies. It is through their regular efforts, analysis, and co-operation that NAICS has emerged as a harmonized international classification of economic activities in North America.


The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) represents a continuing cooperative effort among Statistics Canada, Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI), and the Economic Classification Policy Committee (ECPC) of the United States, acting on behalf of the Office of Management and Budget, to create and maintain a common industry classification system. With its inception in 1997, NAICS replaced the existing classification of each country, the Standard Industrial Classification (1980) of Canada, the Mexican Classification of Activities and Products (1994), and the Standard Industrial Classification (1987) of the United States. Since 1997, the countries have collaborated in producing 5-year revisions to NAICS in order to keep the classification system current with changes in economic activities. The NAICS changes for 2012 represent a minor revision and all occur within sector boundaries.

The North American Industry Classification System is unique among industry classifications in that it is constructed within a single conceptual framework. Economic units that have similar production processes are classified in the same industry, and the lines drawn between industries demarcate, to the extent practicable, differences in production processes. This supply-based, or production-oriented, economic concept was adopted for NAICS because an industry classification system is a framework for collecting and publishing information on both inputs and outputs, for statistical uses that require that inputs and outputs be used together and be classified consistently. Examples of such uses include measuring productivity, unit labour costs, and capital intensity of production, estimating employment-output relationships, constructing input-output tables, and other uses that imply the analysis of production relationships in the economy. The classification concept for NAICS leads to production of data that facilitate such analyses.

In the design of NAICS, attention was given to developing a production-oriented classification for (a) new and emerging industries, (b) service industries in general, and (c) industries engaged in the production of advanced technologies. These special emphases are embodied in the particular features of NAICS, discussed below. These same areas of special emphasis account for many of the differences between the structure of NAICS and the structures of industry classification systems in use elsewhere. NAICS provides enhanced industry comparability among the three North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) trading partners, while also increasing compatibility with the two-digit level of the International Standard Industrial Classification (ISIC Rev. 4) of the United Nations.

NAICS divides the economy into twenty sectors. Industries within these sectors are grouped according to the production criterion. Though the goods/services distinction is not explicitly reflected in the structure of NAICS, four sectors are largely goods-producing and sixteen are entirely services-producing industries.

A key feature of NAICS is the information and cultural sector that groups industries that primarily create and disseminate a product subject to copyright. This sector brings together those activities that transform information into a commodity that is produced and distributed, and activities that provide the means for distributing those products, other than through traditional wholesale-retail distribution channels. Industries included in this sector are telecommunications; broadcasting; newspaper, book, and periodical publishing; software publishing; motion picture and sound recording industries; libraries; internet publishing and broadcasting; and other information services.

Another feature of NAICS is a sector for professional, scientific and technical services. It comprises establishments engaged in activities where human capital is the major input. The industries within this sector are each defined by the expertise and training of the service provider. The sector includes such industries as offices of lawyers, engineering services, architectural services, advertising agencies, and interior design services.

A sector for arts, entertainment and recreation groups facilities or services that meet the cultural, entertainment and recreational interests of patrons.

The health care and social assistance sector recognizes the merging of the boundaries of these two types of services. The industries in this sector are arranged in an order that reflects the range and extent of health care and social assistance provided. Some important industries are family planning centres, outpatient mental health and substance abuse centres, and community care facilities for the elderly.

In the manufacturing sector, the computer and electronic product manufacturing subsector brings together industries producing electronic products and their components. The manufacturers of computers, communications equipment, and semiconductors, for example, are grouped into the same subsector because of the inherent technological similarities of their production processes, and the likelihood that these technologies will continue to converge in the future. The reproduction of packaged software is placed in this sector, rather than in the services sector, because the reproduction of packaged software is a manufacturing process, and the product moves through the wholesale and retail distribution systems like any other manufactured product. NAICS acknowledges the importance of these electronic industries, their rapid growth over the past several years and the likelihood that these industries will, in the future, become even more important in the economies of the three NAICS partner countries.

The NAICS structure reflects the levels at which data comparability was agreed upon by the three statistical agencies. The boundaries of all the sectors of NAICS have been delineated. In most sectors, NAICS provides for comparability at the industry (five-digit) level. However, for real estate, and finance and insurance, three-country comparability will occur either at the industry group (four-digit) or subsector (three-digit) levels. For these sectors, differences in the economies of the three countries prevent full comparability at the NAICS industry level. For utilities, retail trade, wholesale trade, and public administration, the three countries' statistical agencies have agreed, at this time, only on the boundaries of the sector (two-digit level). Below the agreed upon level of comparability, each country may add additional detailed industries, as necessary to meet national needs, provided that this additional detail aggregates to the NAICS level.


The third revision of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) required the time, energy and co-operation of numerous people and organizations in three countries: Canada, Mexico and the United States. The work that has been accomplished is a testament to the individual and collective willingness of many persons and organizations in the public and private sectors to contribute to its development.

In Canada, NAICS was revised under the guidance of Alice Born, Director of Standards Division. NAICS Canada could not have been revised without input from the subject matter divisions of Statistics Canada, federal and provincial government departments and agencies, business and trade associations, and economic analysts, the contribution of all of whom is gratefully acknowledged.

NAICS Canada 2012 is published by Standards Division. The publication was prepared by Michael Pedersen under the supervision of Alice Born and Johanne Pineau-Crysdale and with major contributions from JoAnn Casey, Karen Milligan-Vata and Robert Smith. The Internet version of this publication was created jointly by Sylvain Boucher and Niloufar Zanganeh.

Systems Engineering Division and Administrative and Dissemination Systems Division were responsible for the systems development of the PDF and HTML formats of the classification.

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