This report describes and quantifies the magnitude of economic activity accounted for by cooperative businesses in the United States. Unfortunately, none of the business reporting agencies of the U.S. government (e.g., the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics) specifically tracks the economic activity that is accounted for by cooperatives. Consequently, our job began with the conceptually simple, but arduous, task of conducting a census of cooperatives. We identified a lower bound estimate for the total number of firms in the United States that operate on a cooperative basis. The term "lower bound" includes both firms that operate as cooperatives but that our search did not detect, and large classes of organizations that arguably are "cooperatives," but that we excluded for the purpose of this study. We discuss these "boundary" issues in the next section of our report.

In addition to identifying most cooperatives in the United States, we also estimated four measures of their aggregate economic impact: Revenue; Employment; Wages; and Income (defined as wages and benefits to workers plus patronage refunds paid to owners). We estimated the direct impact across each of these measures, and the indirect and induced impacts that result from wages and refunds spent by cooperative owners and employees. Subsequent sections describe our methodology and offer descriptive background for four major aggregate economic sectors where cooperatives are active: Commercial Sales and Marketing: Social and Public Services: Financial Services: and Utilities. These aggregate sectors are comprised of 17 individual subsectors.