incremental, but the basic idea to creatively combine data sources should guide the process from the beginning.
A key aspect of the strategy to better coordinate data collection and production involves solving technical and legal hurdles so that administrative data that are routinely collected by (and from) businesses can be optimally exploited. Use of administrative data can (1) improve accuracy of information, particularly when survey questions require respondent recall, (2) improve breadth of information, and (3) reduce respondent burden by minimizing the amount of information that must be gathered using surveys (National Research Council, 2005a, p. 8). In conducting their business data programs, the statistical agencies could, if permitted, make more effective use of administrative data that are collected as a matter of course.
For studying topics related to life-cycle business dynamics—such as the link between the age of businesses and their economic contributions (e.g., to employment growth or innovation)—it is particularly important to develop a linking strategy that allows for the construction of comprehensive longitudinal data structures that capture events as they take place. Many of today’s surveys and censuses have longitudinally incompatible questionnaires. When survey instruments are created and revised, more weight should be given to the potential longitudinal uses of the data. It would also be highly desirable to be able to link new collections to existing data sets to maximize their research and policy value. Linkage opportunities include tapping “nonbusiness” data, such as the CPS, the ACS, and the American Time Use Survey.
Looking forward, the statistical agencies should develop their administrative data and surveys with the intent to integrate them into a longitudinal household-business data infrastructure.
Recommendation 6: The Census Bureau should develop a fully integrated longitudinal household-business data infrastructure from administrative data to serve as a platform for tracking business formation, for integrating household and business survey data for measuring economic activity associated with the business formation process, and for developing samples for new surveys of business dynamics. The integration should include the master household address files, the job frame from linked employer-employee administrative records, and data for firms (including those with no paid employees, but with receipts) from the Census Bureau business register.
The Federal Economics Statistics Advisory Committee recently advised BLS and the Census Bureau to further integrate household and employer data. One motivation is to investigate the discrepancies between the various employment statistics produced by the agencies. Given the potential differ-