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Sept 10 -- The U.S. Census Bureau requests an extension to the approved request for clearance of the adding supplemental questions to the Annual Business Survey to capture a baseline of remote work options at businesses in 2019. The supplemental questions were approved by OMB under an emergency clearance through November 30, 2020. This extension is needed due to the necessity to keep the 2020 ABS in the field through December 31, 2020. Public comment is invited by October 12, 2020.
 
The additional questions are designed to measure work from home operations of businesses in 2019 to capture a baseline. If deemed warranted, next year's ABS would propose adding the same or similar questions to understand work from home operations of businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020. ABS is designed to allow for incorporating new content each survey year based on topics of relevance. The ABS includes all nonfarm employer businesses filing Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax forms as individual proprietorships, partnerships, or any other type of corporations, with receipts of $1,000 or more.

The questions are part of Section A—Company Information. The questions are designed to measure three concepts, specifically for 2019 (prior to the Coronavirus pandemic):

(1) Does the firm allow work from home?

(2) To what degree are employees of the firm engaging in work from home?

(3) What are the limiting factors for work from home?

The supplemental questions are being collected in the ABS is to establish a baseline for the status of work from home prior to the coronavirus pandemic. These data are not available from any other source. The ABS is uniquely positioned to create these estimates, and we may want to ask these questions again in the future to see if the coronavirus pandemic has an immediate effect (in 2020) or longer run effect (in 2021) on businesses offering work at home options to their employees. The goal of adding work from home content would be to:

Create estimates of the number of businesses that provide work from home options for their employees by business characteristics (for example: Size, age, geography, industry)
Create percent of workers who are working from home by business characteristics (for example: Size, age, geography, industry)
Determine if businesses ability/willingness to offer expanded work from home options to employees changed during the pandemic and if those options were temporary or appear to be more permanent conditions of employment within those businesses.
 
ABS website: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/abs.html   
FR notice:  https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/09/10/2020-19989/agency-information-collection-activities-submission-to-the-office-of-management-and-budget-omb-for
Submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202009-0607-001  Click on IC List for survey instruments, View Supporting Statement for narrative on uses, methods, and schedule.
 
Point of contact:  Kevin Deardorff, Chief, Economic Reimbursable Surveys Division 301-728-8140  kevin.e.deardorff@census.gov    
 
For AEA members wishing to provide comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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