[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 73 (Monday, April 18, 2005)]
[Pages 20177-20180]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 05-7689]



Office of the Secretary

Submission for OMB Review: Comment Request

April 8, 2005.
    The Department of Labor (DOL) has submitted the following public 
information collection request (ICR) to the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB) for review and approval in accordance with the Paperwork 
Reduction Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-13, 44 U.S.C. chapter 35). A copy of 
this ICR, with applicable supporting documentation, may be obtained by 
contacting Darrin King on 202-693-4129 (this is not a toll-free number) 
or e-mail: [email protected].
    Comments should be sent to Office of Information and Regulatory 
Affairs, Attn: OMB Desk Officer for the Bureau of Labor Statistics 
(BLS), Office of Management and Budget, Room 10235, Washington, DC 
20503, 202-395-7316 (this is not a toll-free number), within 30 days 
from the date of this publication in the Federal Register.
    The OMB is particularly interested in comments which:
     Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is 
necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, 
including whether the information will have practical utility;
     Evaluate the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the 
burden of the proposed collection of information, including the 
validity of the methodology and assumptions used;
     Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the 
information to be collected; and
     Minimize the burden of the collection of information on 
those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate 
automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection 
techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting 
electronic submission of responses.
    Agency: Bureau of Labor Statistics.
    Type of Review: Revision of a currently approved collection.
    Title: Report on Current Employment Statistics.
    OMB Number: 1220-0011.
    Form Number: BLS-790 Series.
    Type of Response: Reporting.
    Affected Public: Business or other for-profit; Not-for-profit 
institutions; Federal Government; and State, local, or tribal 

                                  Number of      Minutes per      Frequency of        Annual       Annual burden
             Form                respondents       report           response         responses         hours
BLS-790A--Natural Resources             1,400              10  Monthly..........          16,800           2,800
 and Mining.
BLS-790B--Construction.......          12,800              10  Monthly..........         153,600          25,600
BLS-790C--Manufacturing......          18,000              10  Monthly..........         216,000          36,000
BLS-790E--Service Providing           153,300              10  Monthly..........       1,839,600         306,600
BLS-790G--Public                       56,700               5  Monthly..........         680,400          56,700
BLS-790S--Education..........           4,000               5  Monthly..........          48,000           4,000
BLS-790F1, F2, F3 (Fax Forms)          36,400              10  Monthly..........         436,800          72,800
    Total....................         282,600  ..............  .................       3,391,200         504,500

    Total Annualized capital/startup costs: $0.
    Total Annual Costs (operating/maintaining systems or purchasing 
services): $0.
    Description: The Current Employment Statistics program provides 
current monthly statistics on employment, hours, and earnings, by 
industry. CES data on employment, hours, and earning by industry are 
among the most visible and widely-used Principal Federal Economic 
Indicators (PFEIs). CES data are also the timeliest of all PFEIs, with 
their release by BLS in the Employment Situation on the first Friday of 
most months. The statistics are fundamental inputs in economic decision 
processes at all levels of government, private enterprise, and 
organized labor.
    Proposed Changes to the Current Employment Statistics Survey: The 
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is planning several changes to the 
Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey to improve its relevance to 
the needs of primary data users, as well as its value as an input to 
other key economic statistics. To implement the needed changes while 
maintaining the viability of the CES program as a high volume, quick 
turnaround, voluntary survey, BLS carefully reviewed the public's use 
of CES data to determine if reductions could be made in some series as 
a tradeoff for significant data improvements. The reductions help to 
maintain the viability of the CES survey by keeping the survey form at 
one-page in length and the number of data items requested of employers 
to a minimum.

Planned Changes

    The planned improvements to the CES are:
    New data on the hours and regular earnings of all employees.
    New data on total earnings--both regular and irregular pay--for all 
    The CES series that BLS proposes to discontinue to accommodate the 
above improvements are:
    Women worker employment series.
    Production or nonsupervisory worker hours and earnings series.
    A brief discussion of the benefits of the planned improvements and 
the reasons for discontinuing the CES women and production and 
nonsupervisory workers series follows.
    Discontinuation of CES women workers series--The CES plans to 
discontinue the collection and publication of data on women workers 
with the release of May 2005 data scheduled for publication in July 
2005. The Bureau has three reasons for proposing to drop the CES women 
workers series.
    The first is that the series imposes a significant reporting burden 
on survey respondents because payroll records do not typically include 
gender identification. BLS relies upon the voluntary cooperation of 

[[Page 20178]]

155,000 businesses each month (representing about 400,000 individual 
worksites) in providing information from their payroll records on the 
employment, hours, and earnings of their workers. In an increasingly 
difficult data-collection environment, survey response burden is a 
crucial factor in survey design.
    Second, the CES women workers series are little used. Recent BLS 
analysis of information from its public use website found that while 
there was an average of 130,000 requests per month for CES national 
estimates, only about one-half of one percent of those requests were 
for the women worker employment series. Additionally, an informal 
internet literature search by BLS found almost no usage of CES women 
worker series. Articles which addressed women's employment and earnings 
issues nearly all used data from the BLS Current Population Survey 
(CPS) as their source.
    Third, BLS will continue to provide extensive labor market 
information on women, primarily from the CPS, a monthly survey of about 
60,000 households. From the CPS, users have access to data on women's 
employment, unemployment, and earnings by industry, occupation, 
education, age, marital status, and other characteristics.
    BLS routinely publishes information in various formats on women in 
the workplace. CPS data on women, for instance, are summarized in two 
recurring publications:

Women in the Labor Force: A Databook

Highlights of Women's Earnings

    Examples of regularly-issued CPS-based news releases that include 
data on women are:

Usual Weekly Earnings of Wage and Salary Workers

Employment Characteristics of Families

College Enrollment and Work Activities of High School Graduates

    Beginning with the release of January 2005 data, Current Population 
Survey data on employed women by industry is available monthly in Table 
A-23 of the BLS periodical Employment and Earnings. The new table is 
available on the BLS Web site at ftp://ftp.bls.gov/pub/suppl/empsit.cpseea23.txt, and shows essentially the same industry detail as 
that shown in Table B-13, the table that currently provides the 
establishment data on women. Table A-23 will be available on the BLS 
Web site each month coincident with the publication of the Employment 
Situation news release.
    New data on all employee hours and earnings series--The CES program 
currently publishes series on the average hours and earnings of 
production workers in the goods-producing industries and non-
supervisory workers in the service-providing industries. Production and 
non-supervisory workers account for about 80 percent of all employment 
measured by the CES survey. The new all employee hours and earnings 
series will cover all workers and therefore provide more comprehensive 
information than the present series for analyzing economic trends. They 
will also provide improved input for other major economic indicators, 
including series on nonfarm productivity and personal income. BLS has 
tested the collection of all employee hours and earnings data with CES 
respondents and found the data to be available from the payroll records 
of most employers. The CES survey will begin collecting all employee 
payroll and hours data in mid-2005. Publication of the first all 
employee hours and earnings series, on an experimental basis, is 
scheduled for mid-2006. Publication of official published series is 
scheduled for early 2007.
    New data on gross monthly earnings--This series will have a broader 
scope than the base CES earnings data. The current CES average hourly 
and weekly earnings series for production and non-supervisory workers, 
as well as the new series planned for all employees are designed to 
measure the regular earnings of workers; they exclude bonuses and other 
irregular payments received by employees from their employers. The 
gross monthly earnings series will include these irregular payments 
providing an additional and more comprehensive measure of earnings. The 
base average hourly earnings series will continue to provide a measure 
of underlying wage trends exclusive of irregular payments. The gross 
monthly earnings series is expected to be particularly valuable for 
improving the accuracy of preliminary estimates of personal income in 
the national income accounts. Pilot tests with CES survey respondents 
indicate that most will be able to readily provide this information 
from their payroll records. The CES survey will begin collecting gross 
monthly earnings data in mid-2005. Publication of the first gross 
monthly earnings, on an experimental basis, is scheduled for mid-2006. 
Publication of official published series is scheduled for early 2007.
    Discontinuation of production/non-supervisory worker hours and 
earnings series--These series will be phased out after the new all 
employee hours and earnings series are well established. The 
production/non-supervisory worker series limited scope makes them of 
limited value in analyzing economic trends. Just as important to this 
decision, the production and non-supervisory worker hours and payroll 
data have become increasingly difficult to collect, because these 
categorizations are not meaningful to survey respondents. Many survey 
respondents report that it is not possible to tabulate their payroll 
records based on the production/non-supervisory definitions. 
Discontinuation of the production/non-supervisory worker hours and 
earnings series is scheduled for early 2010.

Public Comment

    In accordance with the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act 
of 1995, BLS posted a notice describing these planned changes in the 
Federal Register on December 22, 2004 [http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/06jun20041800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2004/E4-3731.htm]. The 
60-day public comment period for this Federal Register notice ended on 
February 22, 2005.

Comments Received Following the First Federal Register Notice and BLS 

    Extensive comments were received as a result of the pre-clearance 
consultation Federal Register notice, Volume 69, Number 245, published 
on December 22, 2004.
    1. A few commenters supported the BLS plan for Current Employment 
Statistics (CES) program changes, including former BLS Commissioner 
Katharine Abraham and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Supporters of 
the plan voiced a common opinion, as expressed by Dr. Abraham: ``The 
positive reason for dropping the women worker question is to make room 
on the CES survey instrument for the new all-employee questions the BLS 
has proposed. The lack of timely information on all-employee earnings 
has been a long-standing problem for the Bureau of Economic Analysis in 
its construction of the national income and product accounts and the 
lack of information on all employee hours is a potential source of bias 
in BLS estimates

[[Page 20179]]

of the rate of growth in productivity. Because the survey sample is so 
large and because responses must be collected within a very short 
timeframe, it is not feasible to collect more than a small number of 
elements on the CES survey.''
    2. A small number of the comments received expressed concern about 
the loss of production worker hours and earnings series, believing it 
should continue to be published in addition to the proposed all 
employee hours and earnings data. BLS is planning a multi-year overlap 
period (July 2006-December 2009) when both all employee and production 
worker hours and earnings series will be published. We will reassess 
our plans to drop the production worker hours and earnings series about 
a year before the planned discontinuation date, drawing on the 
experience of data users and survey respondents during the overlap 
period before making a final decision.
    3. The majority of comments objected to the planned discontinuation 
of the women worker employment series, but many appeared to be based on 
a misunderstanding of the CES data. They referenced the presumed loss 
of data on women's earnings, occupations, or other information that 
have in fact never been available from the CES program. In all 
likelihood, the commenters were confusing the CES with the Current 
Population Survey (CPS) or household survey. The household survey does 
provide data on earnings, occupations, and other labor force 
characteristics by gender. Collection of all this data through the CPS 
will continue.
    Following are additional specific comments regarding the planned 
discontinuation of CES women worker series. The comments are grouped by 
the three reasons BLS has cited for proposing to discontinue the 

Use of CES Women Worker Series

    4. A number of commenters indicated that CES women worker data were 
widely used by researchers. BLS reviewed all of the articles cited by 
commenters as well as conducting our own informal internet search for 
research on women's employment issues. Of the scores of articles on 
this topic, only 6 articles (covering a 20-year span) were found that 
contained any CES women worker data; these papers all used additional 
data sources in conjunction with the CES information.
    5. A number of comments indicated that the CES data on women 
workers were necessary to formulate public policy for working women and 
to track women's progress in the workplace. However, without 
information on occupation, hours, or earnings by gender, the CES 
provides relatively little information for these purposes. The CPS 
provides much more information on the employment and labor force 
characteristics of women and thus is more useful for formulating policy 
or evaluating women's progress.

CPS Data on Women as a Substitute for CES Data on Women

(Note the italicized comments included below are drawn verbatim from 
a form letter used by the majority of commenters.)

    6. With a gender breakdown, the payroll survey is capable of 
painting a reliable picture of where women are working across 
industries and business cycles. Without a gender breakdown, that 
picture becomes far more difficult to obtain. While the CPS is valuable 
for other types of information, its smaller sampling size produces a 
greater margin for error than the CES survey. It is true that CPS data 
are subject to larger sampling error than the CES estimates owing to 
the smaller sample size of the CPS. However, because the CPS provides 
many more characteristics for women workers, it is an overall richer 
source of data for women workers than the CES. In addition, while we 
have publicly stated that the CES is superior to the CPS for analyzing 
month-to-month trends, we believe that such short term measures are not 
appropriate for most assessments of the changing status of women (or 
any demographic group) in the labor market. When examining longer term 
trends, the advantage the CES has in sample size declines in 
importance. The two surveys have displayed similar trends for women's 
employment growth over the past several years.
    7. The CPS' reliance on household interviews introduces the 
possibility of subjective reporting bias that does not exist with the 
payroll survey. All surveys are potentially subject to non-sampling 
errors or biases of various types. While we have no quantitative 
measures of the degree of non-sampling error in the household versus 
the payroll survey, it is likely that the payroll survey provides 
better industry coding than the household survey because the codes 
originate from businesses.
    8. The CPS historical time series of employment by industry is not 
seasonally adjusted and not as long as the CES employment by industry 
time series. The CPS North American Industry Classification System 
(NAICS)-based time series begins in 2000. The CES NAICS-based time 
series begins in 1964. As part of the conversion to NAICS, CPS industry 
data for 2000 through 2002 were re-coded using the new industry 
classification system. BLS provided this re-coded information to the 
public via microdata files and its website. This information could be 
used by researchers to reconstruct the CPS series for earlier time 
periods. Additionally, the large amount of research on women's issues 
that uses the CPS data suggests that the lack of seasonal adjustment of 
the CPS industry series is not a major liability.

The Respondent Burden of CES Women Workers Data

    9. Some commenters indicated that reporting employment data for 
women is not an added burden for businesses, because they are already 
subject to EEO reporting requirements. While it is true that most large 
firms are required to comply with EEO by submitting an employer 
information report (EEO-1), this is a once-a-year report while the CES 
is a monthly report. Additionally, the individuals who complete the CES 
report often indicate that gender information is not present on their 
standard payroll records and that they do not have ready access to the 
data. As evidence of respondent burden, out of every six employers who 
provide total employment counts, one does not provide the additional 
data on female employment.
    10. Some respondents indicated that hours and earnings for women 
along with other demographic information should be added to the CES 
survey. Others questioned whether the BLS rationale of eliminating 
women worker collection to make room for other data items of more 
interest was necessary.
    The CES is a large survey (400,000 worksites) which operates under 
very tight time constraints (data are published each month, only three 
weeks after the reference period); it relies on voluntary self-
reporting from most of its sample members. Because of this demanding 
production environment, BLS believes that it is important to minimize 
the number of data items collected and to request data that are readily 
available on payroll records. These measures help minimize respondent 
burden and therefore maximize the number of surveyed businesses that 
are willing and able to supply data. Maximizing the number of survey 
responses is important to ensuring reliable estimates. The CES 
estimates of nonfarm employment which appear in the BLS Employment 
Situation news release are among the nation's most visible and 
sensitive economic indicators. BLS needs to ensure that the reliability 
of these

[[Page 20180]]

estimates is not jeopardized by overloading the survey.
    11. Some commenters indicated that the CES survey was mandatory, 
thus there should be no problem in collecting any type of data. Others 
suggested that because the survey was voluntary, it did not generate a 
respondent burden, because businesses were free to refuse.
    The CES survey is mandatory by State law in five States 
(California, Oregon, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Washington). 
In all other States the CES survey is voluntary. It is precisely 
because of the largely voluntary nature of the survey that BLS must 
minimize the reporting burden to businesses. If the survey is perceived 
as too time consuming or burdensome, a high refusal rate may result, 
which would decrease the accuracy of the published estimates.

Ira L. Mills,
Departmental Clearance Officer.
[FR Doc. 05-7689 Filed 4-15-05; 8:45 am]