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U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Redesigning Data Collection Strategies for Cost-Reduction in Two Bureau of Labor Statistics Surveys Michael A. Searson.

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Presentation on theme: "U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Redesigning Data Collection Strategies for Cost-Reduction in Two Bureau of Labor Statistics Surveys Michael A. Searson."— Presentation transcript:

1 U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Redesigning Data Collection Strategies for Cost-Reduction in Two Bureau of Labor Statistics Surveys Michael A. Searson U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics International Conference on Establishment Surveys Montréal, Canada June 2007

2 2 Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) Program Fed/State Cooperative Statistical Program l Program started with the passage of Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) l BLS provides funding, deliverables, manuals, guidelines, and methodologies to State agencies l States collect & edit data (decentralized approach)

3 3 QCEW Statistics 4 th Quarter 2006 Stats: 8.9 Million establishments Million employment $1.516 Trillion Wages

4 4 Data Coverage 98 Percent of all non-farm salary Workers in the U.S. 45 Percent of U.S. Agricultural Workers.

5 5 Data Sources for the CEW Program Primary Administrative Records of the State Workforce Agencies - UI Tax departments. Secondary Supplemental forms designed by BLS to meet additional program statistical needs. These are administered by the State LMI staff.

6 6 QCEW Collection Forms Status Determination Quarterly Contribution Report Annual Refiling Survey (ARS) Multiple Worksite Report (MWR) Report of Federal Employment & Wages

7 7 Status Determination Form (SDF) Used to determine an employers liability for Unemployment Insurance Basis for initial assignment of industrial, geographic and ownership codes Mandatory for employers to file Initial source of UI Tax and physical location addresses

8 8 Status Determination Form Issues l Expected economic activities may change over time l Limited space on SDF for: - economic activity information - physical location addresses (PLA) - geographical location information l Increasing volume of SDFs l State staff knowledge l One-Stop Business Registration - impacts access & quality of initial industry code information

9 9 Purpose of ARS Review and Update (if necessary) Mailing & Physical Location addresses County code Single/multi-worksite status Industry code (NAICS)

10 10 Annual Refiling Survey (ARS) About the Form: BLS designed (standardized) Mandatory in 23 States 1/3 of Universe reviewed annually (historically) Sample based on 7th & 8th digit of EIN Verification System Minimum 75% response rate in units or 80% employment for States

11 11 ARS - Key Points ARS updates are impacted by quality and processing of SDF information Space provided on form Staff training Data omissions - PLA Limited access Multi-state employers receive ARS forms for each state where they have employees

12 12 Growth in Establishments Exceeds the Increase in Funds for the States Survey of Staff Time Usage: Data Collection and Review% ARS22 MWR12 Total34

13 13 Survey Costs Printing - Forms, Cover Letters, Flyers Handling - Folding, Stuffing, Opening, Scanning, Filing Postage Out & Return $.41 $.56 Review Data Entry - Response code and updates, if necessary

14 14 Strategy to Cut Costs Reduce scope of survey Stretch survey to 4 year cycle Touch-tone Response System (TRS) Contracting out ARS data collection Fax collection Web collection Central review by BLS staff

15 15 Three ARS Collection Forms 1.NVS – Single worksite accounts 2.NVM – Multiple worksite accounts 3.NCA – Unclassified accounts

16 16 ARS Scope Cutbacks Recent budgetary cutbacks lead to the following changes in the ARS Survey: Size cuts have eliminated businesses with 0, 1, and 2 employees from being surveyed Government accounts are not surveyed Private Households are not surveyed Move from 3 to 4 year cycle

17 17 Matrix Analysis Approach Number of Alternative Survey Options Evaluate based on Boxes Checked Other Factors: Some alternative strategies may save $, but take a long time to implement Some not so cost-effective but easy to implement Some strategies may require more follow-up for non- response, thus reducing total cost savings

18 Potential ARS Collection Methods Impact on Survey Processes, Activities, and Costs

19 19 Touchtone Response System (TRS) Eligible employers have the option to call a toll-free number to respond to the survey Eliminates return postage and manual processing and review

20 20 TRS Eligibility Single worksite employers Valid NAICS code Specific county code assigned Good physical location address

21 21 TRS Facts test States Expanded to 40 States All States - 378,000 Responses ,000 Responses ,000 Responses 2007* - 382,000 Responses *Survey Still Active TRS normally accounts for 31% of total ARS responses

22 22 TRS Lessons Learned System works very well States advise us via if respondents indicate problem with TRS; few problems to date Touch-tone phones set to pulse mode, rather than tone mode will not work with TRS Use of Cellular telephones by respondents can create a problem States and National Office MUST be on the same time line for mailing out TRS eligible forms


24 24 Central Annual Refiling Survey (CARS) Commercial vendor prints cover letters, flyers, and envelopes Inserts all materials and mails Opens returned ARS forms Sorts responses into different groups based on employer responses Provide electronic files of responding firms (to note receipt) Return ARS forms for states to review Use software to reduce outgoing postage costs

25 25 ARS Contracting Issues: All States mailing at the same time would require additional TRS equipment and phone lines Coordination with third-party (contractor) increases potential risks

26 26 CARS Cost Reduction Postage: Uses National Change of Address and Mailstream refinement process- average outgoing mail cost $.34. Normal postage $.41 Business Reply Mail (BRM) averaged $.45, will be reduced to $.37 when High Volume QBRM postal service is used. Normal fee as much as $1.10 ARS Processing: CARS FY 07 processing costs is $.55 per respondent (excluding postage) to print, stuff, mail, receive, scan and batch NVS (single) forms. This figure involves three (3) ARS mailings, if necessary

27 27 FY 2007 CARS Changes All States used same (generic) TRS Flyer to standardize printing Expanded from 12 to 22 States Tightened processing schedule

28 28 Future Plans FY 2008 Use generic state cover letters Expect to increase to 28 states Processing schedule shortened

29 29 Future Plans FY 2009 Imaging of returned forms with some updates New contract to include printing of NVM and NCA forms

30 Old NVS Form (Double Sided)


32 Fax Collection

33 33 Fax Collection Issues Limited records with fax numbers Must verify fax number before faxing forms (2x fax) Fax number maintenance on 3 year cycle, more on 4 year cycle Too costly for data entry

34 Web Collection

35 35 Web Collection Issues Employers not familiar with ARS form (only surveyed every 3 to 4 years) Web registration process would take longer for the employer than filling out the form.

36 36 Quarterly Contribution Report (QCR) Mandatory State Form Monthly Employment Total Quarterly Wages Taxable Wages Contributions Due UI Staff responsibility

37 37 Multiple Worksite Report Purpose: Distribute employment and wage information reported at State level on QCR (tax report) to individual worksites of employer within that State. Also collect business identification information (trade name, physical location address and worksite description) for users of BLS Business Register as a sampling frame or longitudinal analysis.

38 38 Multiple Worksite Report (MWR) Standardized BLS Form Mandatory in 26 States Disaggregate Statewide employment & wages on QCR More than 1 location and/or industry in State 128,000 Legal Entities with 1.4 M worksites 18% of units on BEL 38% of Total Employment Emphasis on Electronic Collection

39 39 MWR Facts States collect MWR data each calendar quarter – decentralized approach Forms mailed to employer at end of each quarter Due to State 30 days after the quarter ends

40 Sample MWR Form

41 41 MWR Web Collection 4 test States in 1Q 2006 Limited solicitation Expanded to all eligible employers in 3Q 2006 in test states Expanded: 18 States in 4Q States in 1Q States in 2Q 2007

42 42 MWR Web Results to Date QuarterEmployersWorksites 3Q Q Q

43 43 Key Web Collection Factors FactorARSMWR Collection modePaper- decentralized (States) Paper-decentralized (States) Collection mode (cont.) -- Electronic-centralized (EDI Center) Collection FrequencyAnnually- once every 3 years (4) Quarterly Employer Familiar With Form NoYes

44 44 Central MWR Electronic Processing Facility EDI Center, based in Chicago, IL, is a facility designed to collect data electronically from large, national firms In 4Q enterprises encompassing: 210,469 worksites 8 million employees 7640 Legal entities (EINs) – Federal 9400 Legal entities (UINs) - State

45 45 Strategies to Reduce MWR Data Collection and Processing Costs 1. EDI Center Expand collection to include more large, national companies and move into medium sized employer market 2. MWRweb Expand collection to include all States and small to mid-sized multi-unit employers 3. MWR Paper Form Utilize a contractor to create a Central MWR Processing Facility (similar to CARS) in FY 2009 Use a scan-able type form for all paper respondents

46 46 Proposed Strategies Continue work with : Payroll/Tax Software Developers Payroll/Tax Outsourcing Firms ­ For inclusion of MWR electronic reporting in their software or as a service for their clients Integrate ARS NVM survey with businesses using MWR web Collection

47 47 Proposed Strategies for Improving Industrial Coding Improve Quality of Initial Codes for New Employers Review State SDFs Review SDF procedures Pursue automated employer self-coding system Goal: Assign correct codes at initial registration Only deal with actual changes in employers economic activities

48 48 Summary Centralize data collection for both surveys Use electronic collection where cost- effective Use scanable type forms where employer insists on paper reporting

49 49 Redesigning Data Collection Strategies for Cost- Reduction in Two Bureau of Labor Statistics Surveys For additional information contact: Michael A. Searson U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Postal Square Building 2 Massachusetts Ave., NE Suite 4840 Washington, DC

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