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Nov 4 -- The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) invites public comments to OMB by December 6, 2021 regarding the National Compensation Survey.  
 
The National Compensation Survey (NCS) is an ongoing survey of earnings and benefits among private firms, State, and local government. Data from the NCS program include estimates of wages covering broad groups of related occupations, and data that directly links benefit plan costs with detailed plan provisions. BLS is seeking approval to increase the NCS sample size for Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023 to mitigate against the impacts of pandemic related non-response on survey estimates and ensure a sufficient number of units are collected to calculate the Employment Cost Index.
 
The NCS collects earnings and work level data on occupations for the nation. The NCS also collects information on the cost, provisions, and incidence of major employee benefits through its benefit cost and benefit provision programs and publications. BLS has for a number of years been using a revised approach to the Locality Pay Survey (LPS) component of the NCS; this uses data from two current BLS programs—the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey and the ECI program. This approach uses OES data to provide wage data by occupation and by area, while ECI data are used to specify grade level effects. This approach is also being used to extend the estimation of pay gaps to areas that were not included in the prior Locality Pay Survey sample, and these data have been delivered to the Pay Agent (in 2019, data for 95 areas were delivered).
 
The NCS has a national survey design for the ECI and the EBS. The NCS private industry sample is on a three-year rotational cycle, with one frozen sample year every ten years for the NCS private industry sample when a new NCS State and local government sample starts (approximately in 2025).  The NCS sample is selected using a 2-stage stratified design with probability proportional to employment sampling at each stage. The first stage of sample selection is a probability sample of establishments within pre-defined geographic areas, industry, and ownership type (privately-owned and State and local government), and the second stage of sample selection is a probability sample of jobs within sampled establishments. The NCS uses 24 geographic areas, one for each of the 15 largest metropolitan areas by employment and one for the remainder of each of the nine Census Divisions. Data from all sampled establishments are used to produce the cost and benefit products.

The NCS continues to provide employee benefit provision and participation data. These data include estimates of how many workers receive the various employer-sponsored benefits. The NCS uses a factor evaluation method with four factors to evaluate the work level of jobs.

The four-factor leveling method is the result of an earlier joint effort between BLS and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) undertaken at the request of the President’s Pay Agent. This simplified approach produces more consistent work level occupational matching. Each factor has several levels reflecting increasing duties and responsibilities, and there are point values associated with each level. The four factors are:

Knowledge – the amount of knowledge required for the job
Job Controls and Complexity – the type of direction received and the nature of the job
Contacts – the nature and purpose of contacts within a job but outside the supervisory chain
Physical Environment – risks involved and physical demands

The NCS collects data on both wage and employee benefits for selected jobs at all sampled establishments. These data include the incidence, costs, and provisions of the employer-provided benefits. For all of these establishments, the BLS updates the wage and benefit cost data quarterly. This updating allows for the publication of change in the cost of wages, benefits, and total compensation on a quarterly basis.  
 
NCS collection will use a number of collection forms (normally having unique private industry and government initiation and update collection forms and versions). For this request, there are no changes to NCS data collection elements.
 
NCS website:  https://www.bls.gov/ncs/
NCS submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202110-1220-001 Click IC List for survey instruments, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation
Federal Register notice inviting public comment: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/11/04/2021-24105/agency-information-collection-activities-submission-for-omb-review-comment-request-national

Point of contact: Hilery Simpson, Associate Commissioner, Compensation Levels and Trends   202-691-5184 simpson.hilery@bls.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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