On April 8, OMB approved the Census Bureau's request to add questions to five Principal Federal Economic Indicator (PFEI) surveys on the impacts of the pandemic on operations. The current OMB approval runs through October 31, 2020. On April 28, the Census Bureau indicated it "now seeks to extend clearance for the COVID-19 supplemental questions for an additional three years. Currently, there is no way to anticipate an end to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy. Therefore, the Census Bureau needs to be prepared for the possibility of collecting these data for an extended period of time."
The Census Bureau invites public comment on the supplemental questions by June 29. See https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/04/28/2020-08951/proposed-information-collection-comment-request-supplemental-questions-related-to-the-effects-of-the
Point of contact: Stephanie Studds, Chief, Economic Indicators Division email@example.com 202-631-2531
The supplemental questions are being added to five PFEI surveys:
Manufacturers' Shipments, Inventories & Orders (M3) Survey
Building Permits Survey
Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey
Monthly Retail Surveys
Quarterly Services Survey
The added questions are designed to allow the Census Bureau to measure the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic upon businesses. As PFEIs, each of these surveys produces timely and closely watched statistics about the health of the U.S economy. Given the importance of these indicator surveys and of the statistics they produce, it is imperative we measure to what extent businesses have been impacted in terms of their ability to maintain operations during this turbulent period.
For the Building Permits Survey, the following questions have been added:
In the last month, was this office unable to issue permits as a result of a closure, lack of staffing, or any other reason? Yes No
If yes: In the last month, were permit backlogs caused as a result of a closure, lack of staffing, or any other reason? Yes No
If yes: In the last month, were permit backlogs cleared by the end of the reporting month or delayed into a future month? Backlogs were cleared by the end of the reporting month, Backlogs were delayed into a future month
For the remaining four surveys, one fixed question was added as follows:
During (month\quarter), did this business temporarily close any of its locations for at least one day?
Additionally, the following questions will be added to the four surveys on a rotating basis:
In general, how has this business been affected by COVID-19?
In the last month, has this business discontinued operations due to factors related to COVID-19?
In the last month, did this business pay wages or salaries to employees that did not work due to the impact of COVID-19 on this business?
In the last month, did one or more of this business's paid employees work remotely (telework)?
In your opinion, how much time do you anticipate will pass before this business returns to the level of operations before March 2020?
Did delays in this business's product shipments impact (insert month) inventories reported in Item XX?
Did this business experience any delays in its supply chain that impacted the value of (insert month) shipments reported in Item xx?
In the last month, did any of this business's locations adopt pickup/carry-out/delivery as their only means of providing goods and services to their customers?
This list of rotating questions differs significantly from those approved through October (see https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/DownloadDocument?objectID=100049202
The request approved by OMB on April 8 provides further detail, which presumably will remain current:
The COVID-19 questions will be asked of all respondents to the regular monthly/quarterly collection of each survey. There will be no special or separate sample of respondents that will receive the questions.
The data will be aggregated within each indicator program at the industry level. This information will be used by analysts to explain the impact and trends of data within their industries, provide insight to current and future state of the data for the industries because of COVID-19, and assist the mathematical statisticians on the application of seasonal adjustment and imputation methodologies.
Additional information will be posted as it becomes available from the Census Bureau.