data for firms (including those with no paid employees, but with receipts) from the Census business register.
An efficient data collection infrastructure also requires that survey programs be well coordinated across statistical agencies. It is not economically efficient to expand the Census Bureau’s surveys to include more information, or to collect it at more frequent intervals, when similar data are already collected in BLS surveys. Similarly, it is not efficient to add output and nonlabor input measurements (such as capital investments) to BLS high-frequency surveys. However, periodic measurement of all these concepts on the same questionnaire (and from the same entities) is the only way to identify and correct errors in the estimation of dynamic relationships that occur when the microdata from multiple sources are aggregated for use in statistical products.
BLS and the Census Bureau should jointly develop intermittent topical modules for their business surveys. These topical modules should be designed to allow periodic measurement in the same survey and with the same business sample of variables usually collected in separate surveys and at different frequencies.
Statistical agencies may also be able to improve the accuracy and timeliness of their products by tapping into data systems maintained by businesses. Given that businesses must continually update their own employment, payroll, capital expenditure, and other records, it makes sense to develop conduits from internal reporting systems to government data collections. By recognizing that companies maintain accounting systems associated with day-to-day operations on a high-frequency basis, it may even be possible to mitigate business respondent burden. New technologies (e.g., web-based reporting) will continue to enhance these kinds of opportunities to improve the timeliness and accuracy of collection efforts.
Four business registers in the United States provide wide-scale coverage of both publicly and privately held businesses: three are maintained by government agencies (the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), BLS, and the Census Bureau), and one is private (Dun & Bradstreet). The registers at the Census Bureau and BLS are the primary lists from which statistics on firm and establishment dynamics are generated. The two main programs on business dynamics—the BED and the SUSB/LBD—are constructed from microdata on establishments in these files. The BLS data come from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program administered by the state Unemployment Insurance programs. The Census Bureau program is