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Aug 2 -- The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) invites comments to OMB by September 1, 2022 regarding the planned renewal of the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) for three years. There are no changes to the ATUS interview.  

The American Time Use Survey (ATUS) is the Nation's only federally administered, continuous survey on time use in the United States. It measures, for example, time spent with children, working, providing eldercare, sleeping or doing leisure activities. In the United States, several existing Federal surveys collect income and wage data for individuals and families, and analysts often use such measures of material prosperity as proxies for quality of life. Time-use data substantially augment these quality-of-life measures. The data also can be used in conjunction with wage data to evaluate the contribution of non-market work to national economies. This enables comparisons of production between nations that have different mixes of market and non-market activities. The ATUS supports the mission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics by providing data on when, where, and how much employed Americans work. Individuals aged 15 and up are selected from a nationally representative sample of approximately 2,060 sample households each month for the ATUS.
The ATUS sample is drawn from the Current Population Survey (CPS), so the ATUS universe is the same as the CPS universe. From this universe, the Census Bureau selects a sample of approximately 69,000 households each month, of which approximately 59,000 households are eligible for interviews. The Census Bureau actually interviews individuals in about 44,000 households each month. For more information about the CPS sample, see chapters 2-1 and 2-2 of Design and Methodology: Current Population Survey, Technical Paper 77 (available at https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/cps/methodology/CPS-Tech-Paper-77.pdf).  

Households that have completed their 8th CPS interview become eligible for selection in the ATUS. About 2,010 of these households are selected for the ATUS sample each month. Some of these cases will be identified as ineligible; designated respondents may have moved or died or the household may be ineligible for another reason. In 2019, about 1,960 households per month were eligible for selection in the ATUS. The ATUS sample is a stratified, three-stage sample. In the first stage of selection, the CPS oversample in the less populous States is reduced. In the second stage of selection, households are stratified based on the following characteristics: race/ethnicity of householder, presence and age of children, and the number of adults in adult-only households. In the third stage of selection, an eligible person from each household selected in the second stage is selected as the designated person (respondent) for the ATUS. An eligible person is a civilian household member at least 15 years of age.   

The sample persons are then randomly assigned a designated reference day (a day of the week for which they will be reporting) and an initial interview week code (the week the case is introduced). In order to ensure accurate measures of time spent on weekdays and weekend days, the sample is split evenly between weekdays and weekend days. Ten percent of the sample is allocated to each weekday and 25 percent of the sample is allocated to each weekend day. For more information about the ATUS sample see chapter 3 of the ATUS User's Guide: http://www.bls.gov/tus/atususersguide.pdf.  

Based on the average response rate in 2019,1 a response rate of about 40.1 percent is expected over an 8-week fielding period.2 Thus, about 785 interviews will be completed each month (1,960 eligible respondents x 0.401), or 9,435 annually.  
The Census Bureau, which collects and processes the data for BLS, uses computer-assisted methods to conduct interviews and record respondent information. Census Bureau interviewers conduct all interviews over the telephone, completing the respondent’s time-use diary using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI). Using an automated call scheduler and hourly reports from the system, cases are presented to interviewers in order depending on respondents’ designated interview days, pre-set appointment times, and other information.

The ATUS questionnaire is built in Blaise, a Windows-based software package developed by Statistics Netherlands and adopted as the Census Bureau standard.   The software’s graphical user interface (GUI) enables the usage of data entry grids that accept many entries on one screen.  ATUS respondents verbally report to the interviewer about the activities of the previous day—what they did, who was with them, where they were, and how long the activity lasted.  The instrument enables interviewers to enter the information for each activity into the diary grid in any order, and it automatically computes the duration of an activity after each entry.  This feature enables the interview to be flexible, making reporting easier for respondents.  (See Attachment A for the main ATUS instrument.)

The ATUS activity coding application is programmed using Microsoft Visual Basic.NET 2010 for Client User interface and Microsoft SQL Server 2008R2 for Database. Diary entries captured during CATI data collection are imported into the coding application.  Coders view the diary in a table format with open fields for the assignment of the 6-digit numeric code matching the activity. The application displays the lexicon of activity descriptions as well as dependent information such as the household roster and the respondent's employment information. The coder uses the lexicon to choose and assign a numeric code at each of the three tiers of detail for each activity requiring a code. The application includes a search feature that enables coders to automatically search the lexicon for a match on the chosen activity rather than manually reviewing the lexicon display to determine the appropriate 6-digit code.   

The cost to the Federal Government for the ATUS base program in Fiscal Year 2022 is approximately $5 million.  Of this, approximately two-thirds represents the work done by the Census Bureau.  

ATUS webpage: https://www.bls.gov/tus/
Submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202203-1220-002 Click on IC List for collection instrument, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this site.
FR notice inviting public comment: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-16497
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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