Subject Research Guides

Industry Research Guide

When to Use This Guide

Use this guide when you need information on a particular industry. It will help you find an industry's leading companies, as well as relevant statistics.

Finding General or Background Information on an Industry

Most of the information about industries is available through online resources, both databases to which Bowman Library subscribes and web sites of various federal government departments and agencies, listed below.

A good way to start learning about an industry is to find its NAICS code. Use Bowman Library's Guide to NAICS for a short introduction to finding NAICS codes. Knowing your company industry code will help you to identify competitors, find rankings, or calculate market share.

The following resources will provide background information on industries.

  • Mergent Online
    Industry Reports have information on broadly defined industry segments, such as banking, construction, automotive, retail, and telecommunications. Select "Industry Reports" and then select an industry and region.
  • Business Insights: Essentials
    Note that this database does not have information about every industry segment described in the NAICS; you might need to use a related, broader, or narrower category, reflected in the number of digits in the NAICS code. Search either for the industry or for a company that is representative of the industry.
    The results page will usually give an industry snapshot from sources like Encyclopedia of American Industries; on the side menu you may find Rankings and Market Share Reports.
  • Passport GMID (Global Market Information Database)
    Use the Industries tab to locate information or pull down the red search tab to Browse Analysis to Industry Reports to build your search. Very useful for international coverage of industries.
  • Industry information may be available through industry and trade associations. Find contact data in Business Insights: Essentials: In the “Advanced Search” select “Associations” from the drop down “Content” menu.

Finding Information About an Industry in Books

Use the following titles to compare industry norms and financial ratios:

Almanac of Business and Industrial Financial Ratios - R HF5681.R25 A45
RMA Annual Statement Studies -R HF5681.B2 R6

Finding Articles About an Industry in Research Databases

Business Insights: Essentials
After you search for the industry in which you are interested, note the "Recent News" link in the side menu.

Business Source Complete
Drop-down menus allow you to combine a variety of terms and limit your search to a company, NAICS code, person, etc.

LexisNexis Academic
Select "News" in the left-hand column. Then choose "Business & Industry."

Selected Web Sites

U.S. Census Bureau
The “Business” category choices will take you to industry-specific census information (1997, 2002, 2007), NAICS searchable database, survey of business owners, and more. Alternatively, follow the main page menu choice “Subjects A-Z” and browse business, companies, manufacturing, sales, services, etc. “Publications” lists categories of Census Bureau publications available online.

Statistical Abstracts of the United States
An excellent source of “at a glance” statistical information about U.S. economic and social conditions. Includes statistics on industry sectors, for example, revenues, number of establishments, employment and wages, consumer spending.

County (Metro, Zip code) Business Patterns
An annual series of statistical economic data on the number and size of existing businesses by geographic area (county, ZIP code, metropolitan) and by NAICS code.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Employment and productivity data by industry “supersectors” (2-digit level NAICS classification).

Bureau of Economic Analysis
Industry Economic Accounts provide detailed information on the flows of goods and services to industries for the production of gross output (I-O accounts) and on the contributions by private industries and government to the national gross domestic product.

Page Last Updated: July 31 2015

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Research Tips

These Research Guides have been prepared by librarians to assist with your research. Read more:

Evaluating Web Resources

Critically Analyzing Information Sources

Searching Electronic Resources Effectively

For more information on citation style, see:

Citing Your Research

Related Guides

Guide to NAICS

Company Research Guide

International Trade Research Guide

Exporters' Research Guide