A Guide to the BC Economy and Labour Market
Home About the Guide BC's Economy Major Industries New Economy For More Information Appendices
  Appendix 2: How are industries defined?  

The North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS)

The classification system used by both Canada and the US is called the North American Industrial Classification System, or NAICS. All types of industries are included in NAICS, and the classification system is periodically revised and its definitions updated to capture changes in economic activity. For example, the classification system must be revised when new industries emerge, or the nature of the work that's done by an industry changes significantly.The guidelines for classifying industries under NAICS were finalized in 1997 and some modifications (mainly to the classification of broadcasting & telecommunications) were made in 2002 and 2007.

Establishments1 are classified to a single industry based on their main activity. For example, offices of architects are included in the professional, scientific & technical services industry. However, if a construction company has an architect on staff, the value of the architect's work would be included in the output of the construction industry The major activity of the establishment in question is construction, not professional, scientific & technical services.

NAICS is hierarchical, with industries classified into broad groupings which are then broken down into sub-categories. The number of digits in a NAICS code indicates the level of disaggregation: two-digit codes are for broader groupings of industries than three-digit codes, and so on. A brief summary of the definitions for the industry groups follows.

11 Agriculture, forestry, fishing & hunting Agriculture
    111 Crop production
    112 Animal production
    1151 Support activities for crop production
    1152 Support activities for animal production
  Forestry & logging:
    113 Forestry & logging
    1153 Support activities for forestry & logging
  114 Fishing, hunting & trapping


Mining & oil & gas extraction
23 Construction
31-33 Manufacturing
41 Wholesale trade
44-45 Retail trade
48-49 Transportation & warehousing

Information, culture & recreation

51 Information & cultural industries
71 Arts, entertainment & recreation

Finance, insurance, real estate & leasing
52 Finance & insurance
53 Real estate & rental & leasing
54 Professional, scientific & technical services

Business, building & other support services
55 Management of companies & enterprises
56 Administration, support, waste management & remediation services
61 Educational services
62 Health care & social assistance
72 Accommodation & food services
81 Other services
91 Public administration


  1. An establishment is the smallest operating entity for which financial statistics are reported. 

A Guide to the BC Economy and Labour MarketA Guide to the BC Economy and Labour Market