A Comparison for the Business Registers Used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau

Lucia Foster, Randy Becker, Joel Elvery, Cornell Krizan, Sang Nguyen, and David M. Talan


The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Bureau of the Census (BOC) each hold separate list files of the universe of U.S. businesses created from independent sources. These business lists serve a number of critical functions, including creating the sampling frames from which surveys and censuses are drawn, providing the data for tabulations of the business universe for BLS' Employment and Wages Annual Averages (Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages) and BOC's County Business Patterns, and providing aggregates from surveys and censuses drawn from the lists combined by agencies such as the Bureau of Economic Analysis to create national economic indicators. In 2004, BLS and BOC initiated a project to examine the similarities and differences in the two registers and to look for opportunities to improve the lists through data sharing. This paper reports on similarities and differences in employment and payroll at the aggregate (published) level for 2001 and 2002. We also describe how this "macro" analysis will motivate and help guide the forthcoming "micro" analysis.