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Apr 8 -- The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Department of Labor, invites public comments to OMB by May 8, 2024 regarding the proposed extension of the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) Program.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has been charged by Congress [Congressional Act of July 7, 1930 (29 USC, Section 1 and 2)] with the responsibility of collecting and publishing monthly information on employment, the average wage received, and the hours worked by area and industry.  The process for developing residency-based employment and unemployment statistics is a cooperative Federal-State program that uses employment and unemployment inputs available in State agencies.

Estimates are prepared monthly in the State agencies, transmitted to the BLS for validation and publication, and provided to user agencies.  These estimates are used for economic analysis and as a tool in the implementation of Federal policy in such areas as employment and economic development under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (that supplanted the Workforce Investment Act of 1998) and the Public Works and Economic Development Act, among others.

The estimates are used in economic analysis by public agencies and private industry and for State and area allocations and eligibility determinations according to legal and administrative requirements.  Implementation of policy and legislative prerogatives could not be accomplished as now written without collection of the data.

The LAUS program itself does not conduct any surveys, but rather uses other survey information and administrative data as sources for inputs.  State Workforce Agencies (SWAs) are the source for many critical inputs, particularly at the substate level.  The “respondents” of this package are the States and the costs to fund positions in the SWAs to prepare, enter, and edit inputs, as well as to validate LAUS estimates, are covered under the Labor Market Information Cooperative Agreement (OMB Control No. 1220-0079).

The reports covered by the supporting statement are integral parts of the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program insofar as they ensure and measure the timeliness, quality, consistency, and adherence to program directions of the LAUS estimates and related research.

-- LAUS 8:  Reports used annually to transmit information on the geographic definition of the area and estimating methodology used for Areas of Substantial Unemployment (ASU).
-- LAUS 15:  Report prepared periodically to request and detail unusual treatment for estimation.
-- LAUS 16:  Reports used annually to transmit LAUS estimates for ASU submittals.

Over the past three years, the goals and objectives of the LAUS program have been discussed extensively with federal and state stakeholders.  Plans and improvements to the methodology to promote data quality were vetted through the LAUS Policy Council.  The Policy Council is comprised of representatives from the BLS and State Workforce Agencies (SWAs) and promotes the effective management and technical direction of the LAUS Program.  The Policy Council is under the guidance of the BLS/LMI Oversight Committee (BLOC), which is comprised of higher-level BLS and state personnel, including the BLS Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics associate commissioner, assistant commissioners, regional commissioners, and state LMI directors.  Furthermore, information regarding all Policy Council activities is shared with all states.  States provide feedback on potential program changes, participate in testing new procedures, and evaluate the results.  

LAUS: https://www.bls.gov/lau/
BLS Handbook of Methods -- LAUS: https://www.bls.gov/opub/hom/lau/
BLS submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202401-1220-004 Click on IC List for survey instruments, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this site.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2024-07326  
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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