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Factors affecting Response to the Occupational Employment Statistics Survey

Polly A. Phipps and Carrie K. Jones


The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) is a bi-annual establishment survey of wage and salary workers designed to produce data on occupational employment and wages by industry for the U.S., States and certain US territories, and Metropolitan Statistical Areas within States. This voluntary survey of establishments with one or more employees is conducted by State employment workforce agencies in cooperation with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While the response rate achieved by OES is quite high, particularly when compared to other U.S. and BLS establishment surveys, there is considerable variation by state, industry, and establishment size. For this paper, we review the establishment survey response and nonresponse literature, and then provide background on the OES sample, data collection procedures, and state survey administration. Next, we describe OES response rates over time by major areas of interest, including establishment size, size of metropolitan area, and industry groups, and we describe patterns of nonresponse, including survey refusals. Finally, using data from the May 2006 OES survey, the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, and a survey of state administrative practices, we use logistic regression models to predict the likelihood of survey response. We test the effect of a number of conceptual factors on response to the OES survey, including establishment characteristics, such as establishment age, multi-establishment firm status, industry, size, location; and survey design and administration factors, including survey form type, nonresponse followup strategies, State staff composition, experience, and turnover, and selection into other BLS surveys.