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Jan 29 -- The Census Bureau invites public comments to OMB by March 4, 2021 on its request to continue the Quarterly Services Survey (QSS) through mid-2024. Census is not proposing any revisions to the QSS. At the same time, Census indicates it is conducting research and testing of a new module on business expectations and uncertainty.
 
Reliable measures of economic activity are essential to an objective assessment of the need for, and impact of, a wide range of public policy decisions. The QSS supports these measures by providing the latest estimates of service industry output on a quarterly basis.
Currently, the U.S. Census Bureau collects, tabulates, and publishes estimates to provide, with measurable reliability, statistics on domestic service total revenue, total expenses, and percentage of revenue by class of customer for select service providers. In addition, the QSS produces estimates for inpatient days and discharges for hospitals.

The BEA is the primary Federal user of QSS results. The BEA utilizes the QSS estimates to make improvements to the national accounts for service industries. In the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA), the QSS estimates allow more accurate estimates of both Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) and private fixed investment. For example, published revisions to the quarterly NIPA estimates are often the result of incorporation of the latest source data from the QSS. Revenue estimates from the QSS are also used to produce estimates of gross output by industry that allow BEA to produce a much earlier release of the gross domestic product by industry estimates.

Estimates produced from the QSS are used by the BEA as a component of quarterly GDP estimates. The estimates also provide the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) and Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) with timely information on current economic performance. All estimates collected from this survey are used extensively by various government agencies and departments on economic policy decisions; private businesses; trade organizations; professional associations; academia; and other various business research and analysis organizations.

The CMS uses the QSS estimates to develop hospital spending estimates in the National Health Expenditure Accounts. In addition, the QSS estimates improve their ability to analyze changes in spending trends for hospitals and other healthcare services. The CMS also uses the estimates in its ten-year health spending forecast estimates and in studies related to Medicare policy and trends.

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPac) utilizes the QSS estimates to assess payment adequacy in the current Medicare program.

The FRB and the CEA use the QSS information to better assess current economic performance. In addition, other government agencies, businesses, and investors use the QSS estimates for market research, industry growth, business planning and forecasting.

Private sector data users and other government agencies both benefit from an earlier release of U.S. services data. The Advance Quarterly Services Report allows policymakers and private data users to make data-driven decisions sooner due to this high-level snapshot of economic data. In addition, the release also allows the BEA to incorporate services data into the second estimate of the GDP. Prior to the implementation of the Advance Quarterly Services Report, Quarterly Services Survey estimates were incorporated in the third estimate of GDP.
 
Approximately every five to seven years, a new sample is drawn. This process is performed in order to:
•    ensure each sample is representative of its target population,
•    improve the efficiency of each sample,
•    incorporate updates to the industry classification structure,
•    expand industry coverage of the survey,
•    update questions and instructions to obtain more accurate data, and
•    redistribute burden for small and medium size businesses.

The current Quarterly Services Survey sample was introduced with the release of estimates for the third quarter of 2017 on November 17, 2017. Response Rates:  For 2019, the average response (in terms of dollar volume) to this voluntary survey was approximately 72 percent. The 2019 average response (in terms of units) to this voluntary survey was about 54 percent.

QSS webpage: https://www.census.gov/services/index.html
QSS submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202101-0607-004 Click IC List for forms, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation.
FR notice inviting comments: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/01/29/2021-01936/agency-information-collection-activities-submission-to-the-office-of-management-and-budget-omb-for
 
Point of contact: James Hunt, Methodology Director for Retail, Wholesale and Services Programs, Economic Statistical Methods Division, U.S. Census Bureau 301-763-6599 james.w.hunt@census.gov

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