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May 21 -- Census posts Small Business Pulse Survey (SBPS) data for Weeks 1-3, with weekly comparison graphs and detail by 3-digit NAICS and 50 largest metropolitan areas. https://portal.census.gov/pulse/data/

May 20 --  The Hutchins Center at the Brookings Institution hosted a webinar at which the Small Business Pulse Survey and initial findings were described: "Webinar: Taking the pulse of the COVID-19 economy — New Census Bureau weekly surveys"
SBPS slides: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Nick-Orsini-slides.pdf
Audio: https://www.brookings.edu/events/webinar-taking-the-pulse-of-the-covid-19-economy-new-census-bureau-weekly-surveys/

May 19 -- Census invites user comments on SBPS utility, design, methodology, and products, by July 20. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/05/19/2020-10677/proposed-information-collection-comment-request-small-business-pulse-survey
Point of contact: Nick Orsini, Associate Director for Economic Programs, Census Bureau  nick.orsini@census.gov

Census currently has OMB clearance to conduct the SBPS through October 31, 2020. In light of economic circumstances, Census may request extension of the clearance for a longer period. User comments will aid Census in conducting the SBPS in the near and longer terms.

The Census Bureau proposes this platform as a pilot to develop a capability that can be used for future economic crises to provide near real time information to policymakers and the public. Through this process, the Census Bureau will learn valuable insights about executing a high-frequency, quick turnaround business survey, including systems development, data collection and quality, and coordination with existing Census Bureau business surveys and dissemination programs. This survey allows us to test internal processes and systems, while also gauging external interest and understanding how businesses react to such a collection. We will also gain insights about the quality of the data in high frequency collections and how it could be improved in future iterations. This pilot may also serve as a model for a more encompassing federal statistical community collection activity.

May 15 -- OMB approves the Census Bureau's request to change the wording of Small Business Pulse Survey (SBPS) survey questions 2-3, 10-16 as of Week 4. The Census Bureau discusses its evaluation of Week 1 results and resulting requested revisions in this May 14 memo: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/DownloadDocument?objectID=101138402
 
Memo section on Evaluating Week1 responses:

Preliminary evidence, including overall response rate, item response rate, survey completion rate, applicability across sectors, and logical consistency, from Week 1 collection of the SBPS suggests that the collection is successful. We reviewed the cognitive testing results and recommendations with this in mind.  

The SBPS overall response rate for Week 1 was 22 %, which exceeded our target response rate of 20%. We believe this supports our initial thoughts that small businesses would be willing to respond to the SBPS under the current circumstances and that they find the SBPS an important way to communicate their hardship and needs to the government.  Excluding the optional “Remarks” section of the instrument and the EIN collection, item non-response rates are well below 1%; fewer than  1/10th of a percent do not complete  all of these  items.

Leading in to cognitive testing, concerns were raised about the applicability of certain operations questions (supply chain disruptions, change in goods or services produced, and changing mode of delivery to only carryout/curbside pickup/delivery). Preliminary review of responses to these by sector seem to support that generally these questions are “working” in the sense that there is between sector variation and low impact on responses in sectors that we did not anticipate widespread impact or responses relative to sectors that we did anticipate impact/response.

Questions on program requests and receipts were evaluated for logical consistency.   For each of the responses that are represented in question 14 (PPP, EIDL, SBA loan forgiveness, and Other federal) responses were checked to ensure that no one reported the receiving assistance that was not applied for.  No cases failed these edits.

Week 1 results
May 14 Press release: https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2020/small-business-pulse-survey.html  
 
Small Business Pulse Survey homepage: https://www.census.gov/data/experimental-data-products/small-business-pulse-survey.html
Interactive data tool, data download, description of purpose and methods: https://portal.census.gov/pulse/data/
Visualization guide:  https://portal.census.gov/pulse/data/downloads/sbps_viz.pdf
Data dictionary: https://portal.census.gov/pulse/data/downloads/data_dictionary.csv
Questionnaire:  https://www2.census.gov/data/experimental-data-products/small-business-pulse-survey/small-business-pulse-survey-questionnaire.pdf?#
Additional information in prior EconSpark post:  https://www.aeaweb.org/forum/1542/weekly-census-bureau-small-business-survey-impacts-release
 
Purpose
The Small Business Pulse Survey (SBPS) complements existing U.S. Census Bureau data collections by providing high-frequency, detailed information on participation in small business-specific initiatives such as the Paycheck Protection Program.

Small Businesses are at the core of our nation’s economy and the challenges they face are important to everyone. To better understand the impact of COVID -19 on these businesses, the U.S. Census Bureau is reaching out to small businesses in order to aid decision-makers in serving their urgent needs.

The results from this survey will be particularly useful to policymakers as they seek to address some of the challenges faced by small businesses. In addition, the information will be useful to businesses making decisions and researchers studying the impact and responses to COVID-19.

Coverage
The target population is all nonfarm, single-location employer businesses with 1-499 employees and receipts of $1,000 or more in the 50 states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The sampling frame was extracted from the Business Register in April 2020.

Content
The Small Business Pulse Survey will provide detailed, timely information about how small businesses’ operations and finances are being affected as well measures of overall well-being and expectations for recovery.

Consisting of 16 questions, this 5-minute survey reaches close to 1 million businesses split across a 9-week rotation to reduce burden and lessen survey fatigue.

Frequency
The Small Business Pulse Survey is a weekly survey that provides high frequency data about the challenges small businesses are facing due to COVID-19. Publication schedule is weekly on Thursdays, starting May 14th.

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