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Michael A. Searson U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Presentation on theme: "Michael A. Searson U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics"— Presentation transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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 Growth in Establishments Exceeds the Increase in Funds for the States
Survey of Staff Time Usage: Data Collection and Review % ARS MWR Total

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

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 Three ARS Collection Forms
NVS – Single worksite accounts NVM – Multiple worksite accounts NCA – Unclassified accounts

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

21 TRS normally accounts for 31% of total ARS responses
TRS Facts 2002 - 6 test States 2003 - Expanded to 40 States 2004 - All States - 378,000 Responses 2005 - 473,000 Responses 2006 - 541,000 Responses 2007* - 382,000 Responses *Survey Still Active TRS normally accounts for 31% of total ARS responses

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

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

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)

31 New NVS Form

32 Fax Collection

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

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 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 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 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 2006 27 States in 1Q 2007 30+ States in 2Q 2007

42 MWR Web Results to Date Quarter Employers Worksites 3Q 2006 920 6300
2000 13229 1Q 2007 3255 20384

43 Key Web Collection Factors
ARS MWR Collection mode Paper-decentralized (States) Collection mode (cont.) -- Electronic-centralized (EDI Center) Collection Frequency Annually- once every 3 years (4) Quarterly Employer Familiar With Form No Yes

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 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 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 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 employer’s economic activities

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 For additional information contact:
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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