The Standard Industrial Classification (SIC)

Stantard Industrial Classification (SIC) is a system for classifying industries into distinctive groups. It was developed in the United States in 1937 to standardize the reporting on economic activities by different government agencies. Since then, the system has been largely replace by the North American Industry Classification System, however, some public and private institutions continue to use SIC codes classify businesses.

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SIC crosswalk tables to over 50 different industry classifications.


Each SIC code consists of 4 numbers. When working with the Standard Industrial Classification it is useful to store the numbers as text, to preserve the leading zeros, and make sure that the length of each code is exactly 4 characters. For example, you should store the code 0700 representing Agricultural Services as 0700 and not 700. SIC codes are divided into 10 main division and one "Nonclassifiable" division of codes:

Range of Codes Division
0100-0999 Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
1000-1499 Mining
1500-1799 Construction
2000-3999 Manufacturing
4000-4999 Transportation, Communications, Electric, Gas and Sanitary service
5000-5199 Wholesale Trade
5200-5999 Retail Trade
6000-6799 Finance, Insurance and Real Estate
7000-8999 Services
9100-9729 Public Administration
9900-9999 Nonclassifiable

History & versions

The discussion around creating the standardized classification of economic activities began in 1934 at an Interdepartmental Conference on Industrial Classification. At that time, there were a number of different, inconsistent classification systems used by individual government agencies. As a result, it was impossible to accurately compare statistics from one agency to another. For example, if one agency reported on production output, and other on employment, there was no way to link that data.

In 1937 an Interdepartmental Committee on Industrial Classification was established to do develop a plan for, and promote the adoption of a unified classification of economic activities.

Quite interestingly, the entire classification was not developed in "one go". First, in 1938 they created a list of manufacturnig industries, and the following year a list of non-manufacturnig industries. THis was still not a complete classification, since it missed the descriptions. Such descirptions were added to both lists in 1940.

Ultimately, the first version of the manual to Manufacturing Industries was published in 1941, and to Nonmanufacturing Industries in 1942.

After the end of World War II, the classification of Manufacturing Industries was updated, and published in 1945. The corresponding update to the part II, Nonmanufacturing Industries manual was published only in 1949.

The first edition of Standard Industrial Classification was version from year 1957, published in 1963.

Further updated editions were developed in 1967, 1972 and 1987. The edition from 1987 is the final edition of Standard Industrial Classification. The work on classifying industrial activities continued as a joint effort between United States, Canada and Mexico, and resulted in the North American Industry Classification System, which was first adopted in the U.S. & Canada in 1997.

Where is it used?

The most notable current use of Standard Industrial Classification (1987 version) includes U.S. Securities And Exchange Commission.

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