and wage data, and to provide aggregate measures to other agencies. Products of the BEL and the BR include the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) and the County Business Patterns (CBP), respectively. Within each agency’s business list programs, there are numerous tasks for which data sharing could be helpful. For example, both the Census Bureau and BLS require establishment-level data for multiunit firms. The Census Bureau requests that these firms break out employment and payroll numbers by establishment in its Company Organization Survey (COS); for BLS, the Unemployment Insurance program’s Multiple Worksite Report (MWR) is used. Because the timeliness and comprehensiveness of the COS and the MWR are not the same, combining results could enhance the measurement of employment, payroll, and establishment birth and death trends for multiunit firms.
Spletzer described the collaborative project ongoing at BLS and the Census Bureau to compare, improve, and (perhaps eventually) reconcile the two lists. The goals of the comparison project are twofold: to understand the differences in the lists and to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each. Contributors to the project at BLS and the Census Bureau are ultimately motivated by the prospect of identifying opportunities to improve the value of the lists in the context of the uses that they serve. Improving the comparability and accuracy of the Census Bureau and BLS business lists not only would provide benefits to the statistical agencies and to downstream users, but also could reduce reporting burden on the business community and possibly reduce costs to the agencies in the long run. Preliminary comparisons have found that heterogeneity between lists increases at finer levels of industry and geography detail; thus Spletzer and Hanczaryk suggest the need for greater sharing of micro-level data. Additionally, they noted the work the agencies plan to do to resolve the different methods used to determine single versus multi-establishment status.
One of the purposes of the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2002 (CIPSEA) is “to improve the comparability and accuracy of Federal economic statistics by allowing the Bureau of the Census, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to update sample frames, develop consistent classifications of establishments and companies into industries, improve coverage, and reconcile significant differences in data produced by the three agencies” (Public Law 107–347, Subtitle B—Statistical Efficiency, Sec. 521, Findings and Purposes). The main hurdle to business list coordination work that arises involves the statutory restrictions on federal tax information. The bulk of the data underlying the Census Bureau register originates from IRS tax records and is shared under Title 26; however, Title 26 does not authorize BLS or BEA to access these records or, for that matter, the Cen-