How We Collect the Data

The following steps are involved in the data collection process:

An establishment is selected

Businesses are selected using a two part process which involves both geographical area and specific business characteristics. A detailed overview of this process can be found on the NCS survey methodology page.

A Field Economist contacts the establishment to collect the data

Once an establishment has been selected, one of the Bureau of Labor Statistics Field Economists will contact the establishment and find the best person(s) from whom to collect the data. After this is established, the Field Economist will then contact that person(s) to both explain the National Compensation Survey and collect survey information.

The Field Economist will make arrangements with you to collect the following information:

  • Job listing with wage data
  • Listing must include:

    1. Job titles
    2. Paid wages
    3. Full- vs. part-time status
    4. Union vs. nonunion distinctions
    5. Dates of hire
    6. Job codes

    Listings should include a break out of items 1 through 6 for each individual worker, as averages or estimates cannot be used for our purposes. Please note that no personal information (such as names or social security numbers) is necessary for our statistical purposes. More detailed information about our confidentiality statement can be found on our Why Participate page.

  • Specific job characteristics and work schedules
  • Work levels are determined using a "point factor leveling" process. This procedure incorporates four occupational leveling factors to determine the work level. The factors are:

    1. Knowledge - What are the requirements to perform the job at its fully functioning level?
    2. Job controls and complexity - How variable are the tasks assigned to workers and how much flexibility is afforded to workers in how they are to accomplish their tasks?
    3. Contacts - Who do workers have contact with and what is the nature of their contact?
    4. Physical Environment - Does this job require physical strength, present any dangers, or require any specific safety precautions?

    The type of data outlined above allows NCS to publish occupational wage statistics according to work level for localities, census divisions, and the Nation. The specific Leveling Guide used by the Field Economist can be found at the following link:

    In addition to job duties and characteristics, a work schedule is collected. The number of hours typically worked on a daily, weekly, and annual basis is vital in calculating both benefit costs and time spent working.

  • Benefit details

    There are 6 categories of benefits for which specific plan provisions and cost data are collected. The Field Economist will work with you to determine how to most easily collect these items depending on your company’s benefits package and available data.

    1. Paid leave - vacations, holidays, personal, and sick leave
    2. Insurance - life, health, short-term disability, and long-term disability
    3. Retirement - defined benefit (pensions) and defined contribution
    4. Legally required benefits - Social Security, Medicare, Federal unemployment insurance, State unemployment insurance, and workers' compensation
    5. Supplemental pay - premium pay (overtime, weekend, or holiday), shift differentials, and bonus data
    6. Other benefits – employee assistance programs, child care subsidies, telecommuting, etc. (This category consists of yes or no questions only.)
  • Summary plan descriptions

    These are documents provided to benefit participants describing primary plan features, provisions, and eligibility requirements. These summaries are used as a primary source to capture detailed plan provisions on health and retirement plans.

  • For more detailed information on the types of benefit data collected, visit our What We Collect page.

    The Field Economist asks clarifying questions

    After the initial contact and once data have been entered into our processing system, some additional questions may arise and the Field Economist will contact you for clarifications using your preferred method of communication.

    The Field Economist updates the data

    Respondents will be asked to update any changes in wage rates and benefit rate/cost information on a quarterly basis. Any changes that have occurred should be noted and sent back to the Field Economist either via telephone, mail, email, or fax.


    Last Modified Date: May 18, 2016