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The Census Bureau invites the public to comment to OMB by December 3, 2021 on the Commodity Flow Survey (CFS), a component of the 2022 Economic Census.
 
The U.S. Census Bureau plans to conduct the 2022 Commodity Flow Survey (CFS), a component of the 2022 Economic Census, as it is the only comprehensive source of multi-modal, system-wide data on the volume and pattern of goods movement in the United States. The CFS is conducted in partnership with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), DOT.

The survey provides a crucial set of statistics on the value, weight, mode, and distance of commodities shipped by mining, manufacturing, wholesale, and selected retail and services establishments, as well as auxiliary establishments that support these industries. The Census Bureau will publish these shipment characteristics for the nation, census regions and divisions, states, and CFS defined geographic areas. As with the 2017 Commodity Flow Survey, this survey also identifies export, hazardous material, and temperature-controlled shipments.

BTS is mandated by Congress under Title 49 to collect economic data on transportation mode choice and goods movement. This information informs freight flows and is critical to understanding the use, performance, and condition of the nation's transportation system, as well as informing transportation investments. Data on the movement of freight also are important for effective analyses of changes in regional and local economic development, safety issues, and environmental concerns. They also provide the private sector with valuable data needed for critical decision-making on a variety of issues including market trends, analysis, and segmentation. Each day, governments, businesses, and consumers make countless decisions about where to go, how to get there, what to ship and which transportation modes to use. Transportation constantly responds to external forces such as shifting markets, changing demographics, safety concerns, weather conditions, energy and environmental constraints, and national defense requirements. Good decisions require having the right information in the right form at the right time.

The CFS provides critical data to federal, state and local government agencies to make a wide range of transportation investment decisions for developing and maintaining an efficient transportation infrastructure that supports economic growth and competitiveness.

Transportation planners require the periodic benchmarks provided by a continuing CFS to evaluate and respond to ongoing geographic shifts in production and distribution centers, as well as policies such as “just in time delivery.”

The 2022 CFS will be an electronic reporting sample survey of approximately 160,000 business establishments in the mining, manufacturing, wholesale, and selected retail and services industries, as well as auxiliary establishments that support these industries. Respondents will report online for all four quarters of 2022, including the CFS expanded hazardous materials supplement in quarters 1 and 4.

The CFS is the primary source of information about freight movement in the United States. Estimates of shipment characteristics are published at different levels of aggregation. The CFS produces summary statistics and a public use data file. The survey covers shipments from establishments in the mining, manufacturing, wholesale, and selected retail industries, as well as auxiliary establishments that support these industries. Federal agencies, state and local transportation planners and policy makers, and private sector transportation managers, analysts, and researchers strongly support the conduct of the CFS.Primary strategies for reducing respondent burden in the Commodity Flow Survey include: Employing a stratified random sample of business establishments, requesting data on a limited sample of shipment records from each establishment with the option to provide all shipments in the week, accepting estimates of shipping activity, applying machine learning to code products based on their descriptions, providing electronic reporting and including the option for consolidated reporting of multiple locations through a single login for larger companies.
 
The sample for the 2022 Commodity Flow Survey will be selected using a stratified three-stage design in which the first-stage sampling units are establishments, the second-stage sampling units are groups of four 1-week periods (reporting weeks) within the survey year, and the third-stage sampling units are shipments.

The first stage sample of approximately 160,000 employer establishments will be selected from a sampling frame extracted from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Business Register. The frame for the second stage of sampling consists of the 52 one-week periods from January 2022 to December 2022. Each establishment selected into the 2022 CFS sample will be systematically assigned to report for four reporting weeks--one in each quarter of 2022. Third Stage - Shipment Selection: For each of the four reporting weeks in which an establishment is asked to report, the respondent will be requested to construct a sampling frame consisting of all shipments made by the establishment in the reporting week. Each respondent will be asked to count or estimate the total number of shipments comprising the sampling frame and to record this number on the questionnaire.  
 
BTS CFS website:  https://www.bts.gov/cfs   
Census CFS website: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/cfs.html   
2022 CFS submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202110-0607-004 Click IC List for survey instruments, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this site.
FR notice inviting public comment: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/11/03/2021-23995/agency-information-collection-activities-submission-to-the-office-of-management-and-budget-omb-for
 
Point of contact: Jennifer N. Whitaker, Assistant Division Chief, Commodity Flow and Health Surveys, Economic Reimbursable Surveys Division, U.S. Census Bureau  (301) 763-2823 jennifer.n.whitaker@census.gov
 
For AEA members wishing to submit 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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