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May 2006, Vol. 129, No. 5
Impact of business births and deaths in the payroll survey
The Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey, conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is a monthly survey of more than 400,000 business establishments. The CES program provides estimates on employment, hours, and earnings by industry detail for the Nation, States, and metropolitan areas. The CES is widely considered one of the most timely and accurate economic indicators published by the Federal Government.
The CES sample-based employment estimates for March of each year are benchmarked, or re-anchored, annually to the March universe count derived principally from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program. These QCEW population counts are much less timely than sample-based estimates and are used to provide an annual point-in-time census for employment. For national series, only the March sample-based estimates are replaced with the population counts.1
BLS completed a comprehensive redesign of the CES sample in 2003, changing the survey from a quota-based sample to a probability-based sample.2 The probability-based sample redesign addressed one of the major limitations of the previous quota-based sample: the absence of a method to directly measure new business births. The new probability-based sample accounts for most business birth employment through the imputation of business deaths, with the remaining portion estimated by a net birth/death model that calculates the effect of the imputation, measures the imputation error, and generates a forecast of this error to adjust the current estimate.
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1 The Bureau’s unemployment insurance (UI) universe count is a quarterly tabulation, from administrative records, of the number of employees covered by unemployment insurance laws. UI universe counts, available on a lagged basis, contain individual employer records for more than 8 million establishments and cover a little more than 97 percent of total nonfarm employment; they thus provide a benchmark for the sample-based estimates. For the small segment of the population not covered by UI, BLS develops employment benchmarks from several alternative sources. More information on benchmarking of the CES estimates can be found on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/web/cesbmart.htm.
2 A probability-based sample is selected through a random process, and the probabilities of selection are known for each unit in the population. A quota-based sample is derived through a sampling process that is repeated, until a minimum responding sample, or quota, is obtained for each characteristic of interest. Details on the implementation of the CES redesign are available in an article by Sharon Strifas, "Revisions to the Current Employment Statistics National Estimates Effective May 2003," Employment and Earnings, June 2003, pp. 3–19.
Related BLS programs
Nonfarm Payroll Statistics from the Current Employment Statistics (National)
Recent changes in
the national Current Employment Statistics survey.—June
Tracking job growth in private industry—Sept. 1982.
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