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Business Response Survey

BRS Methods Landing Page

This is the Business Response Survey Methods landing page

The Business Response Survey to the Coronavirus Pandemic (BRS) was designed to identify changes to business operations, employment, workforce flexibilities, and benefits that occurred from January 1, 2020, through September 30, 2020 for U.S. businesses specifically as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.


The sample was drawn from the establishments included in the BLS Business Register, built from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW). There are currently 9 million establishments on the BLS Business Register. The universe of respondents to the BRS are private sector establishments in the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.


BLS selected a sample of approximately 597,000 establishments. The objective of the sample was to produce statistics at detailed levels including by size class, state, industry, and some state-industry, state-size combinations. Production of statistics at any detailed levels will depend on the ability to pass disclosure requirements to ensure confidentiality of the establishments responding to the survey.


BLS used both email and physically printed and mailed letters for solicitation purposes. The QCEW program maintains a list of 5.5 million email addresses for the Annual Refiling Survey. To reduce respondent burden, reduce survey costs, and increase response rates, the BRS utilized these email addresses to solicit businesses whenever an email address was available. When an email address was not available, the respondent received a printed solicitation letter. Where an email address was unusable or unresponsive, the respondent also received a printed solicitation letter.


In the BRS, respondents are asked to confirm their mailing address and physical location address and provide contact information, confirm their business activity (NAICS code) or indicate if it has changed as a result of the pandemic, and answer seven coronavirus pandemic questions through the secure online application.


Emailed solicitations went out approximately two weeks before mailed solicitations.  After about a week, a follow-up email was sent to the email-sample non-responders to maximize the email response rate.  A third round of email prompts was sent approximately one week later.  A second printed solicitation that also includes email non-respondents and undeliverable emails was mailed about 4 weeks after the initial mailout. Overall data collection was conducted over an eight-week period.  


Before estimates are released to the public, they are first screened to ensure that they do not violate the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) confidentiality pledge. A promise is made by the Bureau to each private sector sample unit that the BLS will not release its data to the public in a manner that would allow others to identify the unit.