Census Bureau lists include Business Master File and Form 941 information on nonprofit organizations, as does the QCEW at BLS. The QCEW can be used to measure employment growth for new organizations; however, since nonprofit status is not identified, estimates (such as Knaup, 2005) cannot easily be broken out by for-profit and nonprofit status. However, researchers from the Johns Hopkins Center for Civic Society Studies have used QCEW data via the BLS outside researcher program to develop a way to identify nonprofit organizations in the QCEW and produce employment statistics on the sector. The joint initiative method involves identifying tax-exempt firms in the data sets by “matching employer identification numbers on the QCEW files with those on the exempt organization master file, maintained by the Internal Revenue Service.” The Form 990 information from the IRS is limited in that the data are organization-based, rather than establishment-level based (Salamon and Sokolowski, 2005). Unlike the Census Bureau’s economic census, the QCEW has broader coverage of the nonprofit sector and is more timely. The decennial population census and the CPS cover the nonprofit sector; however, research shows that the self-identification of the profit or nonprofit status of a workplace is questionable.
There is high demand for small-area statistics on the numbers of nonprofit organizations and employees. In principle, such estimates could be produced, as often as quarterly, from states and metropolitan areas from Form 941 or QCEW data. Employment information from QCEW data are more precise since organizations are disaggregated to the establishment level. Also, employment information is not collected from organizations with less than $100,000 annual revenue that file Form 990-EZ. Organizations with less than $25,000 annual revenues over three years do not need to file at all, and there are not much data on slightly larger organizations without paid employees.
These sources say little about the use of volunteer labor, an important input for nonprofit operation. Estimates of the supply of volunteer labor can be produced by various household data collections, particularly the CPS supplement and the newly developed ATUS. Use of this labor, particularly at the establishment level, is still largely missing.
Martin David suggested to the panel that microdata that include the exempt status of the organization should be created and made available to researchers at the Census and BLS data centers with restricted access. He noted further that the NAICS industrial classification is insufficient for nonprofit organizations. The National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE), which is used by the IRS to classify annual information returns, is more detailed (for example, it distinguishes between elementary and high schools, which NAICS does not). Carrying over NTEE from the source