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July 6 -- The Census Bureau conducts the Annual Business Survey (ABS) to provide information on select economic and demographic characteristics for businesses and business owners by sex, ethnicity, race, and veteran status. The ABS also measures research and development for microbusinesses, business topics such as innovation and technology, as well as other business characteristics. The ABS is sponsored by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) within the National Science Foundation (NSF). ABS website: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/abs.html

The ABS incorporates new modular content each year based on topics of relevance. The Census Bureau informs the AEA that for the 2021 ABS, it is considering among the following candidate topical modules -- design; business technologies (e.g., cloud services); innovation (goods, services, business processes); financing (e.g., sources, impact of COVID-19); and management practices (e.g., use of performance indicators, business targets). Census invites AEA members to indicate their preferences among these options -- as well as suggestions and perceptions regarding other aspects of the proposed 2021 ABS -- by September 4, 2020.

Background:
The ABS includes all nonfarm employer businesses filing Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax forms as individual proprietorships, partnerships, or any other type of corporation, with receipts of $1,000 or more. The 2021 ABS will have a sample of approximately 300,000 employer businesses. This sample size will yield summary-level estimates for women-, minority-, and veteran-owned businesses at the 2-digit NAICS, U.S., state, and MSA levels. The Census Bureau uses administrative data to estimate the probability that a firm is minority- or women-owned. Each firm is then placed in one of nine frames for sampling. The sampling frames are: American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic, Non-Hispanic White Men, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, Other, Publicly Owned, and Women. The sample is stratified by state, industry, and frame. The Census Bureau selects some companies with certainty based on volume of sales, payroll, and number of paid employees or NAICS. All certainty cases are sure to be selected and represent only themselves.

The ABS collects the following information from employer businesses and nonprofit organizations:

Owner characteristics, including sex, ethnicity, race, and veteran status from the principal owner(s) of the business.
Company information including, worldwide sales, domestic sales, number of employees, and business ownership from all businesses in the sample.
Business characteristics from all businesses in the sample.
Research and development from businesses with between 1-9 employees.
Research and development from nonprofit organizations.

Additional topics on business owners may include military service, owner acquisition, job functions, number of hours worked, primary income, prior business ownership, age of owner, education and field of degree, citizenship and place of birth, disability, and owner's reason for owning the business. Additional topics on the businesses may include number of owners and percent ownership, family owned and operated, business aspirations, funding sources, profitability, types of customers, types of workers, employee benefits, franchise operations, work from home practices, and business activity. Potential module topics for the ABS may cover innovation, technology and internet usage; management and business practices; exporting practices; domestic and foreign transactions; design; worker training; and financing.

Planned requests to OMB for the 2021 ABS:

1) The Census Bureau plans to request the expansion of the sample universe to collect R&D data from tax-exempt businesses (i.e., nonprofit organizations) who are required to complete IRS form 990, in order to compile national estimates of R&D performance within this sector.
 
2) The Census Bureau plans to request an extension to a currently approved emergency clearance to add supplemental questions about remote work to the 2020 ABS. The additional questions are designed to measure the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on business operations and will provide a baseline of businesses' remote work activity. As the current emergency clearance will not cover the entire 2020 ABS collection period, the Census Bureau requests an extension of the emergency approval through January 31, 2021. Similar questions will be included on future ABS collections as part of the proposed content and will be submitted to OMB for review annually.

3) For sections A through D of the 2021 ABS, the Census Bureau expects to use the questions now in the 2020 ABS (https://www.dropbox.com/s/peabc6qxgvfcdk7/abs1_062220.pdf?dl=0).
 
4) For Section E of the 2021 ABS, the Census Bureau expects to choose among the module topics noted above: design: business technologies (e.g., cloud services); innovation (goods, services, business processes); financing (e.g., sources, impact of COVID-19); and management practices (e.g., use of performance indicators, business targets).
Design, Technology, and Innovation draft questions:  https://www.dropbox.com/s/3uqjg5l367a0jdn/Design%20and%20Tech%20Questionnaire%20Draft.docx?dl=0
Financing and Management Practices draft questions: https://www.dropbox.com/s/sqx8oufix6qqblq/Finance%20and%20Management%20Questionnaire%20Draft.docx?dl=0

AEA members are invited to send their comments on the above to Patrice Hall, Branch Chief, Business Owners Branch, 301-763-7198 patrice.n.hall@census.gov  For comments on topical modules, please include description of how preferred modules would inform research efforts.  
 
Federal Register notice inviting public comment: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/07/06/2020-14413/agency-information-collection-activities-submission-to-the-office-of-management-and-budget-omb-for

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