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Economic News Release
BRS BRS Program Links

U.S. Business Response Technical Note

Technical Note
Data Collection

Data for the 2022 Business Response Survey (BRS) were collected from August 1 through September 30, 2022. 
The BRS relied on the existing data collection platform of the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and 
Wages (QCEW) program’s Annual Refiling Survey (ARS). BRS survey responses were solicited via email and 
printed letters. Responses were collected online using the ARS platform. This allows for a large, 
nationally representative sample to be surveyed at minimal cost.


Establishments. An individual establishment is generally defined as a single physical location at which 
one, or predominantly one, type of economic activity is conducted. Most employers covered under the state
Unemployment Insurance (UI) laws operate only one place of business.

Industry. The BRS uses the 2017 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). NAICS is the 
standard used by federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for the purpose of
collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data on industry. In NAICS, each establishment is 
assigned a 6-digit code to identify its industry at the finest breakout available in the classification 
system. However, for publication purposes, data are often summarized at the 2-digit level to represent 
industry sectors.

Large/small establishments. For these data, establishments with 2021 annual average employment of 1-499 
are considered small, and greater than 499 are considered large.

Telework. This is a work arrangement that allows an employee to work at home, or from another remote 
location, by using the internet or a computer linked to one’s place of employment, as well as digital 
communications such as email and phone.

New hires. This includes any new employees hired in July 2022, even if they had not formally started 
working in July 2022 or had left the position since being hired. Establishments were instructed to report
only hires for their specific location and not any other location of the same company.

Job vacancies. This includes any paid position, new or unfilled, that the establishment is taking active
steps to recruit or hire for at the time of data collection. For positions with multiple vacancies, 
establishments were instructed to report the number of candidates they would be willing to hire for that 

Sample Design and Selection Procedures

For the 2022 BRS, BLS selected a stratified sample of approximately 340,000  establishments from a 
universe of over 8.9 million private-sector establishments. The universe source was the set of 
establishments from the 2021 fourth quarter BLS Business Register that were identified as in-scope for 
this survey.

The BLS Business Register is a comprehensive quarterly business name and address file of employers 
subject to state Unemployment Insurance (UI) laws. It is generated from data gathered by the QCEW 
program. Each quarter, QCEW collects and summarizes employment and wage information at various levels of
geography and industry. Geographic breakouts include county, Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), state, 
and national. Industry breakouts are available at the detailed 3-, 4-, 5- and 6-digit NAICS levels, as 
well as at the industry sector level and at the higher-level goods and services producing designations. 
The QCEW covers all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The
primary sources of data for these 53 entities are the Quarterly Contributions Reports (QCRs) submitted to
State Workforce Agencies (SWAs) by employers subject to state UI laws. The QCEW program also gathers 
separately sourced data for Federal Government employees covered by the Unemployment Compensation for 
Federal Employees (UCFE) program.

There were approximately 11 million establishments on the 2021 fourth quarter BLS Business Register that
served as the source of the BRS's sampling universe. However, about 2 million of these establishments 
were determined to be out-of-scope for the survey. Establishments that met the following characteristics
were excluded from the universe:
•	Public Administration & Government (NAICS 92)
•	Private Households (NAICS 814110)
•	U.S. Postal Service (NAICS 491110)
•	Services for the Elderly and Persons with Disabilities (NAICS 624120) with Establishment Size = 1
•	Unclassified Accounts (NAICS 999999)

The 2022 BRS leveraged the technical and collection infrastructure of the ARS. To integrate the BRS sample
into the ARS framework, each establishment in the BRS sampling universe was categorized into one of the 
following groups:
•	ARS-eligible establishments – active for this year's ARS (BRS selectable)
•	ARS-eligible establishments – inactive for this year's ARS (BRS not selectable)
•	ARS-ineligible establishments (BRS selectable)

Not all establishments are eligible for the ARS. Establishments with one to three employees are never
administered the ARS, and, of the establishments that are eligible for the ARS, only about one-third are
randomly selected to be administered the ARS in any given year. During BRS sample selection, active 
ARS-eligible establishments and ARS-ineligible establishments were "selectable." Inactive ARS-eligible 
establishments were disallowed from selection, in part to reduce respondent burden over time. 

Each BRS sampling stratum consisted of establishments from one or more of the groups above. Within strata
containing only active ARS-eligible establishments or only ARS-ineligible establishments, establishments 
were selected with no restrictions using simple random sampling. Strata containing only inactive 
ARS-eligible establishments were imputed because there were no selectable establishments and, therefore, 
no survey results. For any stratum containing a mix of ARS-eligible and ARS-ineligible establishments, 
stratum sample sizes were allocated proportionately to each sub-population. Within the stratum's 
ARS-ineligible sub-population, establishments were selected with no restrictions using simple random 
sampling. Within the stratum's ARS-eligible sub-population, the active/selectable establishments were 
selected by taking a simple random sample.

Note that for any stratum containing both active ARS-eligible and inactive ARS-eligible establishments, 
the sample was selected from only the active portion of the stratum. Because ARS active/inactive status 
was random, this selection was considered to be representative of all ARS eligible establishments in the
stratum. Because of this, and because stratum sample sizes were proportionately allocated to eligible/
ineligible sub-populations, sample units were equally weighted within (but not across) strata and survey
question combinations.

When designing the survey and determining sample sizes, BLS researchers, analysts, and methodologists
collaborated to identify the key research goals. As part of this process, a balance had to be struck 
between producing precise estimates for various establishment aggregations and the costs associated with
fielding a sample that could deliver on those goals. Based on the types of administrative data available
for establishments on the BLS Business Register and based on the team's experience analyzing similar 
establishment-based surveys, research goals centered on creating survey estimates for different 
combinations of establishment geography, industry type, and/or establishment size. This motivated the 
decision to choose a design that stratified on all three factors. A decision was then made to define 
granular strata to keep the strata homogeneous and to facilitate the construction of a wide array of 
broader composite estimates as functions of the more narrowly defined strata estimates. In the 2022 BRS,
strata were defined jointly on the following factors:
•	State {All states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands}
•	Industry Type, based primarily on 2-digit NAICS
•	Establishment Size, based on employment {1-4, 5-9, 10-19, 20-49, 50-99, 100-249, 250-499, 
        500-999, 1000+}
In the establishment size list above, all nine "narrow" size groupings are given. Some BRS analyses were
conducted using two other broader establishment size groupings – a "medium-width" grouping and a "broad," 
or large/small, grouping. The medium-width size classes were 1-19, 20-99, 100-499, and 500+. The 
large/small groupings were 0-499 and 500+. 

BLS identified specific state-industry, state-size class, and industry-size class establishment 
aggregations as the key levels at which to produce estimates to a certain degree of precision while 
minimizing survey cost and respondent burden. These aggregations were used to drive sample size 
determination. Specifically, they were:
•	State by goods-producing/services-producing industry type categorization {52*2 = 104 estimation 
•	State by medium-width establishment size {52*4 = 208 estimation cells}
•	Modified NAICS sector by medium-width establishment size {15*4 = 60 estimation cells}
•	Narrow establishment size {9 estimation cells}

Because these aggregates were initially identified as the most important ones, the sample was designed to 
achieve a desired precision when generating estimates for these groupings. The sample was not designed to 
achieve a desired precision when estimating for other groupings, although in some cases the desired 
precision was achieved anyway. 

For each estimation cell within each of the four key aggregates listed above, sample sufficiency counts
were determined based on estimating proportions to an agreed-upon degree of precision. The formula for the 
sample sufficiency of an estimation cell was based on the deconstruction of the formula for the variance
of a proportion (using simple random sampling within the cell). Estimation cell sample sufficiency counts
were then allocated proportionately to all strata within each cell. The result was a set of four 
"allocated sufficiency counts" per stratum. For each stratum, the maximum of the four sufficiency counts 
was chosen. Each stratum's chosen sufficiency count was then divided by an estimated survey response rate
to derive a stratum sample size. If the chosen value exceeded the number of selectable establishments in
a stratum, the stratum's final sample size was set equal to its number of selectable establishments. 
In that case, the truncated sample size was reallocated to other strata mapping to the same estimation cell. 
Once sample sizes were finalized, samples were selected within each stratum as described earlier.

Response Rate

The 2022 BRS consisted of 22 questions to which establishments could respond. A survey was considered 
usable if the respondent answered at least 4 of the 22 questions, including inferred answers where 
appropriate. Estimates were generated from usable surveys only.

Of the approximately 340,000 sampled establishments, approximately 5,300 were deemed uncollectible prior 
to fielding the sample. These uncollectible establishments were treated as non-respondents. Typically,
these were establishments that changed status between the time the universe was drawn and data collection
and could no longer be contacted or could not respond to the survey. Thus, the 2022 BRS was administered
to approximately 335,000 establishments.
Of the establishments that were given the opportunity to take the survey, about 91,000 participated to 
some degree, and approximately 1,000 were not usable (answered fewer than four questions). Thus:
•	Survey Participation Rate (relative to the full sample) = 26.9%
•	Survey Participation Rate (relative to the collectible sample) = 27.3%
•	Usable Response Rate (relative to the full sample) = 26.7%
•	Usable Response Rate (relative to the collectible sample) = 27.1%
•	Usability Rate Amongst Survey Participants = 99.2%

Estimation Methodology

BRS estimates were derived using straightforward stratified sample estimators. Independent estimates were 
calculated within each stratum having at least one usable response. Estimates for each stratum having no 
usable responses were imputed from broader estimates that encompass the missing stratum. Composite, or 
aggregated, estimates were built from weighted combinations of directly estimated strata results and, 
where necessary, imputed strata results.

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Last Modified Date: March 22, 2023