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Apr 8 -- The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is soliciting comments to OMB by May 8, 2024 concerning the proposed 2024 Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages Business Supplement (QBS) for 2024.

The 2024 QBS survey will ask businesses about telework, hiring, and vacancies in Summer 2024. It is intended to offer an updated snapshot of these essential business activities two years after nearly identical questions were first asked in the 2022 QBS survey, called the 2022 Business Response Survey.

The QBS allows BLS to collect new information about the U.S. economy in an efficient and cost-effective manner. It allows the BLS and data users to better understand specific economic issues of emerging relevance, or the impact of specific events (e.g., policy changes, strikes, resource shortages, health epidemics, terrorist attacks, and severe weather) on the economy in a timely manner, allowing policy makers to make informed decisions.

The QCEW program produces a comprehensive tabulation of employment and wages for workers covered by state Unemployment Insurance (UI) laws and Federal workers covered by the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) program. The UI administrative records are the foundation for the QCEW. While based on the UI administrative data, it is the detailed review and editing, along with the additional detail collected and updated via the Multiple Worksite Report (MWR) and Annual Refiling Survey (ARS) that allows the QCEW to serve as the sampling frame for BLS establishment surveys. The information collected, edited, and maintained by the QCEW program allows BLS to publish information reflective of the entire U.S. economy. The QCEW currently is the most frequent, comprehensive, accurate, and timely publication of information available with the most industry and geographical detail.

The purpose of the QBS is to facilitate collections of new information about the U.S. economy in a timely manner. Data collected under the QBS will be used by government program officials, industry, academia, etc. to investigate timely topics about which there is little existing data.
The primary purpose for the 2021 QBS survey (the 2021 Business Response Survey) was to collect information on how businesses were continuing to change their operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. These data were released to the public in February 2022. The 2022 QBS (2022 Business Response Survey) collected information on telework, hiring, and vacancies at businesses as they began the transition through the mid- and late-stages of the coronavirus pandemic. These data were released to the public in March 2023.

The 2024 survey will repeat most of the 2022 questions to better understand how telework, hiring, and vacancies have changed since emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. Topic areas include telework, hiring and methods employers use to attract new hires, vacancies by duration, and methods employers use to advertise vacancies. This information, in combination with previously collected QBS data and other BLS data, will help create a more robust understanding of how businesses attract and retain employees in the post-pandemic environment.

With the intended large QBS sample size, BLS plans to calculate estimates at the national, state, industry sector, and size class levels. This will allow for an assessment of differences among businesses by state and industry. The goal for the data is a public news release, research articles, and articles in academic journals. BLS expects to publish survey results nationally, by state, by industry sector, by establishment size, and by state and industry sector where possible. These goals are contingent on response and the ability to meet disclosure avoidance thresholds.

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.

QBS aka Business Response Survey (BRS): https://www.bls.gov/brs/
BLS submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202401-1220-003 Click on IC List for survey instruments, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this site.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2024-07327  
 
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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