Economics: National Ocean Watch (ENOW) for Self-Employed Workers

Get It Now

This database contains statistics on self-employed workers whose jobs fall within the six sectors of the ocean and Great Lakes economy, as defined by Economics: National Ocean Watch (ENOW). Statistics include the number of self-employed persons and gross receipts for coastal counties, states, and the coastal United States.

Data are derived from the Census Bureaus’ comprehensive Nonemployer Statistics (NES), which look at 22 sectors and nearly 300 industries across the country. Nonemployer establishments, while making up the majority of businesses in the U.S., account for less than four percent of all sales and receipts nationally. Most are self-employed individuals who may have other sources of income. NES data are the primary resource for studying the scope and activities of self-employed people.

Data Specifications

  • Area of Coverage: Approximately 400 coastal counties, 30 coastal states, 8 regions, and the nation
  • Dates Available: 2005 to 2011
  • Format: Comma-separated value (CSV)
  • Scale: National, state, and county


  • The ENOW NES data measure activity of sole proprietorships and other businesses with no employees at various geographic scales and classified in the six sectors within the ocean and Great Lakes economy.
  • The ENOW NES data originate from statistical information obtained through business income tax records from the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Most nonemployers are self-employed individuals operating very small unincorporated businesses, which may or may not be the owners’ principal sources of income. These firms are excluded from most other business statistics (the primary exception being the Survey of Business Owners).
  • A nonemployer firm is defined as one that has no paid employees and has annual business receipts of $1,000 or more ($1 or more in the construction industries).
  • Receipts include gross receipts, sales, commissions, and income from trades and businesses, as reported on annual business income tax returns.

Notes and Limitations: In accordance with U.S. Code, Title 13, Section 9, no data are published that would disclose the operations of an individual business. Before 2005, the Census Bureau used the complementary cell suppression method to avoid disclosure of confidential data. Since 2005, the noise infusion data protection method has been applied to prevent disclosure of cell values for receipts. Noise infusion is a method of preventing disclosure in which values for each firm are perturbed before the creation of the table by applying a random noise multiplier to the magnitude data (in this case, receipts) independently for each business. Disclosure protection is accomplished by producing a relatively small change in the vast majority of cell values.

Story Maps

Jobs in the Fishing Industry
ENOW data are used to highlight the employed and self-employed workers in the fishing industry around the United States.


Nonemployer Statistics Methodology
Provides basic and detailed descriptions of how the nonemployer data are collected.

What Is the Ocean and Great Lakes Economy? (graphic)
Portrays the elements that make up the ENOW Ocean and Great Lakes Economy.

What's in the Ocean and Great Lakes Economy? (table)
Shows how data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) are aggregated to create the six ENOW sectors. BLS and BEA data are classified by type of industry using the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Each ENOW sector represents a composite of multiple NAICS industry classes that depend on the oceans and Great Lakes.

North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)
Includes detailed information about NAICS, including how the newest system compares to the older system.

U.S. Census Bureau Frequently Asked Questions

Econ 120
Includes a series of fun, animated two-minute videos that explain the significance of key economic concepts.

ENOW Announce List Server
Provides subscribers updates on socioeconomic resources for ocean and coastal management.