The idea behind Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes was to improve communication between different U.S. government departments and agencies, across various industries, as well as between countries that chose to adopt the system.

What is SIC?

SIC codes categorize businesses according to their specific realms of expertise. These four-digit codes were originally created to simplify the analysis of economic data. Use of SIC codes has reduced significantly after the introduction of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) in 1997.

SIC codes rely on a progressive grouping system based on specific industry classification. It flows from divisions, to major groups, to industry groups.

The corresponding table gives you an indication of specific divisions and the range of SIC codes within them.

Division - Range of SIC Codes

A. Agriculture, forestry, and fishing - 0100 to 0999

B. Mining - 1000 to 1499

C. Construction  - 1500 to 1799

D. Manufacturing - 2000 to 3999

E. Transportation, communications, electric, gas, and sanitary service - 4000 to 4999

F. Wholesale trade - 5000 to 5199

G. Retail trade - 5200 to 5999

H. Finance, insurance, and real estate - 6000 to 6799

I. Services - 7000 to 8999

J. Public administration - 9100 to 9729

Non-classifiable - 9900 to 9999

Organization in Charge of SIC

The United States government, through the U.S. Central Statistical Board, was responsible for developing the SIC system.

History of SIC Codes

Different branches of U.S. government agencies relied on their own methods and metrics to carry out business analysis until the early 1900s. The idea of forming a standardized government classification system came through a recommendation made at the 1934 Interdepartmental Conference on Industrial Classification.

In 1937, the U.S. Central Statistical Board formed an Interdepartmental Committee on Industrial Classification. Its purpose was to come up with a classification plan that covered different types of statistical data used by various industries. It also aimed to promote the system’s general adoption as the federal government’s standard classification system.

After a period of preparing proposed classification and subsequent reviews, the first manufacturing industries’ printed edition was published in 1941. The one for nonmanufacturing industries was published in the following year. Revisions were made in 1958, 1963, 1967, 1972, 1977, and 1987.

Now, use of SIC codes in the U.S. is being replaced with the six-digit NAICS codes. However, some government agencies and departments still rely on the use of SIC codes, with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) serving as a prime example.

Example Codes

Given below are examples of some SIC codes.

  • 0721
  • 0722
  • 0723
  • 0724

The first two digits (07) in these examples are indicative of the major group (agricultural services).

The first three digits (072) in these examples are indicative of the industry group (crop services).

The last digit, with the number in its entirety, denotes a particular product or service. The examples in question refer to:

  • 0721 – Crop planting, cultivating, and protecting
  • 0722 – Crop harvesting, primarily by machine
  • 0723 – Crop preparation services for market, except cotton ginning
  • 0724 – Cotton ginning

Incidentally, an SIC code does not indicate the division under which it falls. These examples come from division A, which represents agriculture, forestry, and fishing.