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Apr 24 -- The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) invites comments to OMB by May 24, 2024 regarding the renewal of the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Current Employment Statistics (CES) program provides current monthly statistics on employment, hours, and earnings, by industry and geography.  The CES program produces detailed industry estimates of employment, hours, and earnings of workers on nonfarm payrolls.  CES National Estimates produces estimates for the nation.  CES State and Metro Area produces data for all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and about 450 metropolitan areas and divisions.  

CES National estimates are among the most visible and widely-used Principal Federal Economic Indicators (PFEIs).  CES National data are also among the timeliest of the PFEIs, with their release each month by the BLS in the Employment Situation, typically on the first Friday of each month.  CES state data are typically released the fifth week after the conclusion of the reference week and CES metropolitan area data are typically released the subsequent week.  The statistics are fundamental inputs in economic decision processes at all levels of government, private enterprise, and organized labor.  

The CES monthly estimates of employment, hours, and earnings are based on a sample of U.S. nonagricultural establishments.  Information is derived from approximately 349,000 reports (from a sample of 122,000 businesses and government agencies with State Unemployment Insurance (UI) accounts representing approximately 666,000 individual worksites).  Each month, firms report their employment, payroll, and hours on forms identified as the BLS-790.  The sample is collected under a probability based design.  Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands collect an additional 8,800 reports for CES (BLS collects a portion of the Puerto Rico reports directly).

Respondents receive variations of the basic collection forms, depending on their industry.  Letters and other materials sent to establishments are also included.  

The CES program is a voluntary program under Federal statute.  Reporting to the State agencies is voluntary in all but four States (California, New Mexico, Oregon, and South Carolina), Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.  To our knowledge, the States that do have mandatory reporting rarely exercise their authority.  The collection form’s confidentiality statement cites the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act and mentions the State mandatory reporting authority.

The BLS has been charged by Congress (29 USC 2) with the responsibility of collecting and publishing monthly information on employment, the average wage received, and the hours worked, by area and by industry.  The data necessary to produce these estimates are voluntarily reported.  The BLS receives approximately 295,000 reports each month from nonagricultural establishment worksites (including government) in the 50 States and the District of Columbia.  An additional 8,800 reports are collected by Puerto Rico (BLS also collects data on behalf of Puerto Rico) and the Virgin Islands.  Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands reports are not included in the probability sample design.

The CES program relies extensively on information technology for data collection.  Ninety percent of the sample is collected by Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), Web, and Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI).  EDI is used primarily for very large, multi-unit reporters, as this method allows firms to transmit microdata files containing all their reports to a central location, significantly reducing respondent burden. As of July 2023, 87 large firms, representing 124,000 reports, report via EDI.  

Recently, CES has developed a new web application that better facilitates the collection of data from mid-size multi-unit reporters (typically those who report 5-50 reports).  Larger multi-unit respondents (>50 reports) typically report via Electronic Data Interchange.   
The probability-based design calls for inclusion of all UI accounts with more than 1,000 employees with certainty.  For other size classes, stratification of the sample by size decreases the probability of selection for smaller size firms.  The BLS has also implemented sample rotation of non-certainty units to further reduce burden.  Most non-certainty firms will report for 2 to 4 years, then will be rotated out of the sample for at least 3 years.

CES: https://www.bls.gov/ces/
BLS submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202402-1220-003 Click on IC List for survey instruments, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this site.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2024-08689
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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