Farmers have many important functions. They produce food of plant and animal origin, keep up the landscape and maintain natural habitats. Despite its small share in the overall economic output, agricultural production is highly important for ensuring sufficient food supply of the population at reasonable prices.
Official agricultural statistics are to record agriculture’s structural and social adaptations to changing market and policy conditions and to make this information available as early as possible. At intervals of eight to twelve years, censuses of agriculture are conducted, which are complemented by agricultural structure surveys between two censuses. In addition, individual surveys are conducted, generally on an annual or sub-annual basis, on land use, livestock population, animal production and yields.
Industry is still a major sector of the national economy, although its outstanding importance has been declining for a number of years, while the service sector has gained in importance.
Short-term information is provided by monthly reports and monthly production surveys, supplying recent data for business-cycle analysis and basic information for index calculations. The most important indicators used to describe the short-term economic development in manufacturing are the index of new orders, the production index and absolute figures on persons employed, remuneration, hours worked and turnover. The annual structural surveys provide information on medium-term developments and structural changes.
Low-cost and stable energy supply is a major factor contributing to the wealth and success of industrialised and newly industrialising countries. Current public debate focuses not only on supply security and price development but also on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and, consequently, the changeover to renewable energy sources.
Official energy statistics provide data not only on electricity production and gas extraction but also on combined heat and power, the heat market and renewable energy sources. A survey is conducted on energy input in industry and on coal imports. Data are also available on the sale of electricity and gas and on the relevant (average) proceeds.
Construction statistics represent, from various aspects, the construction activities from project planning and input of production factors all the way to the completed structures. The surveys in the construction industry provide statistical information on the short-term and structural development of the construction industry. Their focus is on the main construction industry and on finishing trades.
The statistics on building activity deal with building permits and construction work completed in building construction, work under construction at the end of the year, demolition of buildings and current adjustment of the stocks of residential buildings and dwellings.
In all western industrialised countries, structural change towards a service society is observed. Within services, too, structures have changed in recent years insofar as especially business services have expanded. Telecommunication services, electronic information search and processing, logistics and leasing are increasingly characterising the structure and development of the economy. This is because, in the context of an increasing division of labour, such services are provided for all economic sectors to safeguard competitiveness. That also applies to the manifold consulting services, not least of all to financial services.
Considering the population’s growing life expectancy, another important service sector is health. Cost structure statistics provide information, among other things, on the economic situation of medical and dental practices as well as practices of masseurs, psychotherapists and non-medical practitioners.
Functioning as a link between producers and consumers, trade plays a central role in the economy. In domestic trade, a distinction is made between wholesale trade and retail trade.
The branch of accommodation and food services is a major economic factor, too. It includes the accommodation industry, which plays an important role in tourism. Tourism is a significant source of income especially in regions where industry is less developed and which are rather far away from industrial and service centres.
Transport means mobility of goods and people, transport allows national and international work sharing, tourism and leisure activities. But transport also means burdens caused e.g. by accidents, noise and air pollution.
Official transport statistics are rather strictly geared to the “transport” activity and the conditions directly required for it. They cover all important data especially on transport services such as goods transport and passenger transport, on transport enterprises, means of transport, transport infrastructure and accidents.
© Statistisches Bundesamt, Wiesbaden 2014