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Data Collection Issues Related to Implementing the Redesigned Current Employment Statistics Survey

Richard J. Rosen, Louis J. Harrell, Jr., Christopher Manning, and Doug Skuta


The Current Employment Statistics (CES) program is a monthly survey of over 375,000 business establishments. The survey produces estimates of employment, hours, and earnings for the nation, States, and metropolitan areas. CES data serve as a key measure of the health of the economy. Based on several years of research and the recommendations of a number of expert panels, in mid-1997 BLS launched sample solicitation for a new probability design to replace the existing quota sample. The new sample design is a simple random sample of Unemployment Insurance accounts. Initiating the new sample requires soliciting ongoing reporting from over 240,000 firms. This large-scale undertaking required development of new enrollment protocols and procedures. Initiation of the new sample is accomplished primarily via CATI. Ongoing data collection utilizes such automated methods as Touchtone Data Entry (TDE), FAX, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), and World Wide Web (WWW). In this paper , we discuss the issues involved in implementing data collection. We focus on developing the necessary infrastructure to perform enrollment and data collection, development of respondent materials, and management of survey activities across three Data Collection Centers and multiple collection modes. Results to date and implications for other business surveys will be discussed.