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Jan 11 -- The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is soliciting comments by March 11, 2024 concerning the proposed 2024 Business Response Survey on Telework, Hiring, and Vacancies (the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages Business Supplement [QBS] for 2024).

The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages Business Supplement (QBS) is a versatile collection instrument designed to capture information on the US economy quickly and efficiently. The QBS collection is designed to incorporate new questionnaires as the need arises to allow BLS to collect and publish information quickly so that stakeholders and data users can understand the impact of specific events, or economic issues of relevance, on the US economy.

The BLS will primarily use the Annual Refiling Survey (ARS) as a platform for conducting the QBS. Each year, the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) Program conducts the ARS by reaching out to approximately 1.5 million establishments requesting verification of their main business activity, and their mailing and physical location addresses. The fully web-based ARS allows for an accelerated timeframe for collection and provides a low-cost platform for conducting the quick, short surveys of the QBS. The QBSs accompanying the ARS have little data collection overhead, leveraging the respondent contact process undertaken as part of the production ARS. QBS respondents already logged into the ARS secure website are directed to a QBS and asked to answer a limited number of additional survey questions after completing the ARS. QBS respondents that are not in the ARS are solicited using established contact methods (email and/or printed letters) and directed to a stand-alone interface to access and answer the QBS questions online.

The QBS is designed to encourage a fast response and minimize respondent burden on the public by limiting the number of questions on each survey and by asking questions that respondents should be able to answer without research or referring to records. In this manner, BLS can provide information that is needed quickly and is not collected elsewhere. The QBS will incorporate new questionnaires as the need for data arises, as frequently as twice a year. The BLS plans to conduct multiple small surveys under the QBS clearance.

The 2024 survey will focus on establishments' telework policies and practices, recent experiences in hiring, and how they advertise vacancies. These questions were previously asked in the 2022 QBS collected under this clearance (the 2022 Business Response Survey). Asking these questions again, a full two years later, will provide an understanding of how these business operations have changed.

BLS coordinated collection related to telework, hiring, and vacancies in the 2022 QBS across BLS programs to both minimize duplication and to ensure the data collected on the QBS would be of value to their programs. Additionally, for the 2022 QBS, BLS engaged the BLS Data User Advisory Committee (DUAC) to solicit topics, feedback, and recommendations to better understand the needs of a wide array of stakeholders.

The 2024 survey will ask virtually the same questions as the 2022 survey. One original 2022 question on telework before the pandemic began has been deleted, and two “screener” questions have been added to enable automatic skip pattern navigation in the 2024 online instrument. The question text is otherwise unaltered except for the reference period.

As with the 2022 QBS, BLS has coordinated collection related to telework, hiring, and vacancies across BLS programs to both minimize duplication and to ensure the data collected on the QBS would be of value to their programs.

-- Specifically, QBS data on hiring and vacancies would complement but not duplicate information collected and published by the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). The JOLTS program provides timely information about hires and vacancies at the national level by industry and at the state level overall. However, there are relatively few data sources that shed light on how many establishments are facing worker shortages, how many have hired multiple workers, how long their vacancies have been open before being filled, how employers are seeking to attract workers, and the credentials of the hired workers.

-- Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) data, produced under the Local Employment Dynamics (LED) Partnership by the Census Bureau, provides summaries by quarter of hires by industry, geography, and firm size. LEHD data are produced by combining QCEW administrative data with other Census bureau data to produce statistics on employment, earnings, and job flows. While these data complement the QBS hiring data, they do not include information on how establishments attract new hires and advertise vacancies.

-- Likewise, telework data collected through the QBS would complement but not duplicate Current Population Survey (CPS) information on telework. The CPS data, which are collected from individuals, provide valuable data from the perspective of workers. The BLS is also fielding the American Time Use Survey Leave and Job Flexibilities Module and the CPS Work Schedules Supplement in 2024, both of which contain questions about telework. Again, both sources will provide statistics from the perspective of workers rather than employers.

-- The BLS Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) data provide occupational information regarding cognitive and mental requirements that include whether civilian workers in an occupation have the ability to telework. ORS defines the ability to telework in an occupation as a formal telework arrangement at an establishment for all employees within the occupation, and excludes temporary or ad hoc arrangements, such as those made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Establishment level data on telework is not included in the ORS. QBS telework data provide a broader picture of establishment telework practices, be they formal or informal in nature, as well as future expectations regarding changes in telework policies. The data also can be compared to the 2022 QBS data, which will allow users to see how business practices have changed.

Total Number of Respondents: 80,000

QBS aka Business Response Survey (BRS): https://www.bls.gov/brs/
Draft survey instruments and technical documentation available at https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/nr3pcqjf2szz9dpmul9t4/h?rlkey=0tzmn5wceof6020r920d6hins&dl=0
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2024-00374

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