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Web-based Data Collection in the Current Employment Statistics Survey

Richard J Rosen, Christopher D Manning, and Louis J Harrell, Jr


Since 1995, the Current Employment Statistics (CES) Survey has tested the use of World Wide Web based data collection. CES is a monthly panel survey of about 380,000 businesses conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The Web collection system has evolved from a "proof of concept" to a production prototype, to a full production system. The current system runs on a secure server and is password protected. The system uses e-mail for various respondent contact purposes such as advance notice to report and nonresponse follow-up. The collection instrument contains embedded logic and range edits to help ensure the accuracy of the data. Thus respondents participate directly in the edit reconciliation process. CES currently has about 100 Web reporters.
This paper compares the Web collection system to Touchtone Data Entry (TDE), reviews the development of the system, describes the methods used to enroll units into the system, and discusses monthly response rates. We also discuss how the editing component has improved the data quality.