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Feb 9 -- The Census Bureau invites public comments to OMB by March 11, 2021 on its proposal to conduct the 2021 Annual Business Survey (ABS).
In an effort to improve the measurement of business dynamics in the United States, the Census Bureau is conducting the Annual Business Survey (ABS). The ABS combines Census Bureau firm-level collections to reduce respondent burden, increase data quality, reduce operational costs, and operate more efficiently. The ABS replaced the five-year Survey of Business Owners (SBO) for employer businesses, the Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs (ASE), and the Business Research and Development (R&D) and Innovation for Microbusinesses (BRDI-M) surveys. The ABS provides information on selected economic and demographic characteristics for businesses and business owners by sex, ethnicity, race, and veteran status. Further, the survey measures research and development for microbusinesses, new 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) and conducted by the Census Bureau for five years (2018-2022).

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 total universe to include both the employer businesses and the nonprofit organizations will be approximately 5.7 million businesses. The ABS samples approximately 300,000 employer businesses annually yielding summary-level estimates for women-, minority-, and veteran-owned businesses at the 2-digit NAICS, U.S., state, and metropolitan statistical area (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.

Starting with survey year 2021, the ABS sample will include an additional 8,000 respondents to collect research activities from nonprofit organizations. Historically, nonprofit organizations were in scope to the ABS, however, they were not mailed because the survey does not expect nonprofit organizations to be classifiable by sex, ethnicity, race, or veteran status. To include the nonprofit organizations, the sample size will increase to approximately 308,000 (300,000 employer businesses + 8,000 nonprofit organizations). Of note, nonprofit organizations will only see questions relating to research activities and will not be asked any questions relating to owner demographics.  
Employer businesses will be asked questions about the sex, ethnicity, race, and veteran status for up to four persons owning the majority of rights, equity, or interest in the business (Section B of the questionnaire). Organizations sampled as nonprofits and respondents with 1-9 employees will be asked about research and development (R&D) activities and related costs (Sections C and D of the questionnaire respectively). Further, employer businesses sampled will be asked about the following topics: Technology, Operations, and Innovation (Section E of the questionnaire); Financing (Section F of the questionnaire); Management Practices (Section G of the questionnaire); and Coronavirus Pandemic as related to R&D (Section H of the questionnaire).

The ABS is designed to allow for incorporating new content each survey year based on topics of relevance. New questions on the 2021 ABS collect data on the following topics: Research activities at nonprofit organizations (Section C of the 2021 ABS questionnaire); technology, operations, and innovation (Section E of the 2021 ABS questionnaire), financing (Section F of the 2021 ABS questionnaire), and management practices (Section G of the of the 2021 ABS questionnaire). Within Sections F and H of the questionnaire, several questions have been added to measure the impact of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic on business activity and R&D, respectively.
ABS website: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/abs.html
ABS package submitted to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202102-0607-002  Click IC List for survey instrument, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation.
FR notice inviting public comments: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/02/09/2021-02613/agency-information-collection-activities-submission-to-the-office-of-management-and-budget-omb-for
Point of contact: Aneta Erdie, Assistant Division Chief, Governments and Business Owners Programs, Economic Reimbursable Surveys Division, U.S. Census Bureau 301-763-4841 aneta.erdie@census.gov

For AEA members wishing to submit comments to OMB, "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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