General Practice, Solo & Small Firm DivisionMagazine

Volume 17, Number 5
July/August 2000


BY Edward Grosek and Thomas Jones

Industrial classification systems are schemes to identify and list by numbers all economic activities in all the industries and services and in public administration. The problem is that there are seven species of such classification codes. This article offers the proper title of each of the classifications; gives its popular acronym; annotates it; tells what agency developed it or what agencies use it; describes what it is used for; provides the titles (and Sudoc numbers or United Nations call numbers) of books in which it is explained or used, or in which there are conversion tables from one code to another; and gives its main headings.

Lawyers will encounter industrial classification codes in many different settings. They will use the Standard Industrial Classification system (SIC) when working with Bureau of the Census data, like County Business Patterns. The Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) is used to settle disputes over which import duty rate should apply to a specific good. Anti-dumping allegations are reported by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). The ITC classifies goods according to the Standard International Trade Classification system (SITC).

Standard Industrial Classification System

The basic structure of the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system dates back to the 1930s. The current revision is an eight-digit classification code prepared by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and used by the OMB and other federal agencies. The purpose of the SIC code is to define establishment-based industries within the U.S. economy by the type of activity in which they are primarily engaged and specify each one with a discrete classification number. With this system, every good produced has an SIC number; and similar products, services, public utilities, and municipal agencies can be identified with certainty, aggregated, and compared.

The following publications use the SIC system:
  • Standard Industrial Classification Manual (U.S. Office of Management and Budget; PR Ex 2.6/2: In 27/987). This book enumerates and defines the SICs to four digits.
  • SIC Division Structure (U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration; OSHA's website has the entire SIC system as it is presented in the above Standard Industrial Classification Manual.
  • County Business Patterns (U.S. Department of Commerce; C 3.204/3:-__: ___). This annual Census Bureau publication uses SICs with two, three, and four digits.
  • Employment and Wages Annual Averages (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; L 2.104/2: ___). This annual Department of Labor publication uses four digit SICs to identify employment categories.
  • Value of Product Shipments (U.S. Department of Commerce; C 3.24/9-6: ___); Manufacturing Profiles (U.S. Department of Commerce; C 3.158/4: ___). In these Department of Commerce annuals, manufacturing industry categories are identified with five-, six-, or seven-digit SICs.
  • Predicasts Basebook, World Casts, and F & S Indexes. In these three serial publications from Predicasts, Inc., six- and seven-digit SICs are used.
  • North American Industry Classification System

The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) was created and developed by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Canada, and Mexico to maintain consistency in the collection and analysis of business activity and to keep track of trade flows within NAFTA. It identifies establishments by the activities in which they are primarily engaged. Other countries do not use NAICS. NAICS was meant to replace the use of the SIC system for trade reporting purposes by the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission. However, as of March 2000, both systems are still in use in both agencies. (An explanation of the two systems can be found in vol. 62, no. 68 of the 1997 Federal Register on pp. 17,288-17,294. A conversion table of SIC to NAICS is on pp. 17,375-17,478.)

The following publications present the NAICS system:
  • North American Industry Classification System: United States 1997 (U.S. Office of Management and Budget; PR Ex 2.6/2: In 27/997). This is the manual for NAICS. The OMB intends to update and republish it quinquennially. It presents, in 694 pages, 1,170 industries with six-digit NAICS numbers plus definitions, illustrative examples, and cross references. It also contains an alphabetized industry index and conversion tables for SIC to NAICS and for NAICS to SIC.
  • Guide to Industry and Foreign Trade Classification for International Surveys (U.S. Department of Commerce; C 59.8: F 76/997). This book summarizes the entire NAICS schedule in 45 pages.
  • North American Industry Classification System (U.S. Census Bureau; /epcd/naics/naicscod.txt; The first web page displays the NAICS system to six digits. The second page is a conversion engine for NAICS to SIC and for SIC to NAICS.
  • Harmonized Tariff Schedule

The Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) is a ten-digit code used by the International Trade Commission and the Customs Service for specifying and quantifying merchandise imported into and exported from the United States. In addition, the schedule designates a duty rate for each type of good. The Harmonized Tariff Schedule is also referred to as the Harmonized Code and is sometimes represented with the acronyms "HS" or "HSC."

Schedule B is the same as the ten-digit Harmonized Tariff Schedule, but it is used by the Department of Commerce for the classification of products and commodities that are exported from the United States. It is published by the Commerce Department in loose-leaf format with annual replacement sheet updates. The only difference between Schedule B and the Harmonized Tariff Schedule is that Schedule B shows no rates of duty.

The following publications use the HTS system:
  • Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (U.S. International Trade Commission; ITC 1.10: 2000). In three volumes, this is the entire Schedule with explanations, annotations, and import duty rates.
  • U.S. International Trade Commission Tariff and Trade DataWeb (U.S. International Trade Commission; The International Trade Commission uses HTS classification numbers in its website to show the U.S. merchandise trade with each of its trading partners. (The ITC also uses SIC, SITC, and Schedule B codes among its various tabulations and publications.)
  • The following publication has the entire Schedule B (plus the replacement sheets): Statistical Classification of Domestic and Foreign Commodities Exported from the United States (Department of Commerce; C 3.150: B/996/__).
  • Industrial Classification System

The Industrial Classification System (ICS) is a six-digit classification system of 231 categories devised by the Department of Commerce and by the Census Bureau for the 1980 census. It was replaced by the NAICS in 1997 and is no longer used by either of these departments.

The following publication displays this classification system:
  • Classified Index of Industries and Occupations (U.S. Bureau of the Census; C 3.223/22: 80-R4, pp. vii to x.). Read the introductory paragraph, and be aware of the difference between "industry code" and "industry category." The enumeration on pages vii-x is also a conversion table for ICS to SIC.
  • Standard Occupational Classification System

The Standard Occupational Classification System (SOC) is a classification schedule for occupations in which work for pay or profit is performed. All recorded occupations, as of the 1980 census, are listed in the SOC system. It was first published in 1977 by the Department of Commerce's Office of Federal Statistical Policy and Standards for use by the Bureau of the Census and then revised in 1980. This classification system is not continuous.

The following publications use the SOC system:
  • Standard Occupational Classification Manual (U.S. Office of Federal Statistical Policy and Standards; C 1.8/3: Oc 1/980). The Manual categorizes more than 500 occupations into three- and four-digit groupings, under which it lists subgroup occupations with cross references to their nine-digit entry numbers in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (L 37.2: Oc 1/2/991). The U.S. Employment and Training Administration's Dictionary of Occupational Titles defines each subgrouped occupation; its nine-digit entry number system is actually another occupational code, but it is used nowhere else.
  • Standard Occupational Classification Codes (Oregon Institute of Technology; library/soccodes.htm). Here is a complete listing of the SOC to four digits. It is searchable with the "find-in-page" function.
  • Classified Index of Industries and Occupations (U.S. Bureau of the Census; C 3.223/22: 80-R4, pp. xi to xviii). Be aware that this section is arranged by "occupational codes" as well as by SOC "occupational categories."
  • Standard International Trade Classification

The Standard International Trade Classification system (SITC) was developed by the United Nations in 1950. It is only used to classify imports and exports for a country. It is not used to classify a country's total production. The second and the third revisions of the SITC are used by the United Nations and by most countries, including the United States. The Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission both use the SITC (along with other classification codes). The third revision has 3,118 basic headings.

The following publications disclose or utilize the SITC system:
  • Standard International Trade Classification, Revision 3 (U.N. Department of International Economic and Social Affairs; UN/ST/ESA/STAT/SER.M/34/Rev.3). This lays out the entire SITC Rev.3 to five digits. Given for each product are the SITC Rev.3 number, a product description, an HTS number, and an SITC Rev.2 number. In the back of the book are conversion tables for Rev.2 to Rev.3, Rev.3 to Rev.2, HTS to Rev.3, and Rev.3 to HTS.
  • Commodity Indexes for the Standard International Trade Classification, Revision 3 (U.N. Department for Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysis; UN/ST/ESA/ STAT/SER.M/38/Rev.2). Volume 2 of this publication contains a 361-page alphabetical index to all products in the SITC schedules plus their five-digit SITC Rev.3 numbers.
  • International Trade Statistics Yearbook (U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs; UN/ST/ESA/ STAT/SER.G/__). Volume 1, "Trade by Country," gives the dollar value of each nation's imports and exports by three-, four-, and five-digit SITC Rev.2. Volume 2, "Trade by Commodity," gives the dollar value of imports and exports for each three-digit SITC Rev.2.
  • Foreign Trade by Commodities (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development; no OECD call number). This annual OECD publication gives for each of 28 industrialized nations the dollar value of its imports and exports with all its trading partners by two-digit SITC Rev.3 numbers.
  • U.S. International Trade Commission Tariff and Trade DataWeb (U.S. International Trade Commission; http://dataweb.usitc. gov/scripts/ sic sitc.asp). The ITC makes available on its website the entire SITC Rev.3 five-digit schedule with product names but with no annotations. You can do a "find-in-page" search on this site.
  • International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities

The International Standard Industrial Classification (ISIC) is a seven-digit code that identifies and categorizes establishments according to their major kind of economic activity. Then, by concatenating the four-digit ISIC number, products of those establishments can be denoted, and production figures for them can be tallied and reported. The ISIC regime was originally adopted by the United Nations Economic and Social Council in 1948 and then revised in 1958, 1968, and 1988. Nations use the ISIC to report their domestic production to the United Nations. Note that the ISIC is not the same as the SIC system and that the ISIC Rev.3 categories are not continuous.

The following monographs and series exhibit or utilize the ISIC system:
  • Indexes to the International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs; UN/ST/STAT/M.4/Rev.2/Add.1). This is the manual for the second revision and contains the entire ISIC Revision 2.
  • International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities Revision3 (U.N. Department of International Economic and Social Affairs; UN/ST/ESA/STAT/SER. M/4/Rev.3). This is the manual for the third revision and contains the entire ISIC Revision 3, including classification definitions and conversion tables for Rev.2 to Rev.3 and for Rev.3 to Rev.2.
  • International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC Rev.3) (U.N. Statistics Division; class/isicmain.htm). This new website explains the principles underlying the ISIC and displays it to three and four digits.
  • International Yearbook of Industrial Statistics (U.N. Industrial Develop-ment Organization (UNIDO); no U.N. call number). This UNIDO publication reports data annually for each country on the number of establishments, number of employees, output, etc. by the three- and four-digit ISIC numbers.
  • Industrial Commodity Statistics Yearbook: Production Statistics (U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs; UN/ST/ESA/ STAT/SER.P/__). This annual U.N. publication gives quantity data for the production of approximately 530 commodities by nation by six-digit ISIC Rev.2. In the back of each edition is a conversion table for ISIC Rev.2, SITC Rev.2, SITC Rev.3, and HTS.
  • SIC Main Headings

0xxx Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing
1xxx Mining
2xxx Manufacturing (foodstuffs, apparel, furniture, chemicals)
3xxx Manufacturing (rubber goods, metal products, electronic equipment, transport equipment, clocks)
4xxx Transportation, Communication, Electricity, and Gas
5xxx Wholesale Trade
6xxx Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate
7xxx Services (personal, business, repair, recreational)
8xxx Services (health, legal, educational, arts)
9xxx Public Administration

HTS Main Headings

01xx-14xx Live Animals, Dairy Products, Vegetable Products
15xx-24xx Fats, Prepared Foodstuffs, and Tobacco
25xx-27xx Mineral Products
28xx-40xx Chemical Products, Plastics, and Rubber
41xx-49xx Hides, Wood, and Paper
50xx-63xx Textiles
64xx-67xx Footwear and Accessories
68xx-83xx Stone, Plaster, Cement, Pearls, Precious Stones, and Base Metals
84xx-89xx Machinery, Electrical Equipment, Vehicles, and Aircraft
90xx-93xx Photography, Cinematography, Clocks, and Arms
94xx-99xx Miscellaneous

NAICS Main Headings

11xx Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
21xx Mining
31xx Manufacturing
42xx Wholesale Trade
51xx-56xx Information, Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Management, and Administration
61xx-62xx Education and Health Services
71xx-72xx Arts, Entertainment, Recreation, Accommodation, and Food Services
81xx Other Services
92xx Public Administration

ICS Main Headings

0xx Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries
1xx-3xx Manufacturing
4xx Transportation, Communication, and Other Public Utilities
5xx-57x Wholesale Trade
58x-6xx Retail Trade
7xx Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Business and Repair Services, and Personal Services
8xx Entertainment, Recreation, and Professional Services
9xx Public Administration

SOC Some Large Categories

11xx-14xx Executive, Administration, and Managerial
19xx-21xx Social Scientists, Social Workers, Religious Workers, and Lawyers
22xx-25xx Teachers, Librarians, and Counselors
40xx-44xx Marketing and Sales
45xx-47xx Administrative Support Occupations
50xx-52xx Service Occupations
55xx-58xx Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing
63xx-65xx Construction and Extractive Occupations
71xx-78xx Production Workers
81xx-83xx Transportation and Material Moving Occupations
85xx-87xx Handlers, Equipment Cleaners, Helpers, and Laborers

SITC Main Headings (REV.3)

0xxxx Food and Live Animals
1xxxx Beverages and Tobacco
2xxxx Crude Materials, excludes Fuels
3xxxx Mineral Fuels, Etc.
4xxxx Animal and Vegetable Oils and Fats
5xxxx Chemical, Related Production
6xxxx Manufactured Goods
7xxxx Machinery and Transport Equipment
8xxxx Miscellaneous Manufactured Articles
9xxxx Miscellaneous Transactions and Commodities

ISIC Some Large Categories (ISIC REV.3)

01x-05x Agricultural, Hunting, Forestry, and Fishing
10x-14x Mining and Quarrying
15x-37x Manufacturing
40x-41x Electricity, Gas, and Water Supply
45x Construction
50x-52x Wholesale and Retail Trade
60x-64x Transport and Telecommunications
65x-67x Financial Intermediation
70x-74x Real Estate, Renting, and Business and Computer-related Activities
75x Public Administration and Defense
80x Education
90x-93x Other Community and Social Service Activities

Edward Grosek is a government publications librarian at Northern Illinois University's Founders Memorial Library, in charge of the UN documents. Thomas Jones is a Ph.D. candidate at Northern Illinois University and a researcher at the University's Center for Governmental Studies.

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