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The Business Establishment List ‐ Standard Statistical Establishment List Comparison Project

Michael A. Searson


The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Bureau of the Census (BOC) each maintain large files of statistical information about businesses in the United States. These business lists are similar in content and program use, are costly for both agencies to develop and maintain, and are burdensome for businesses with multiple establishments. Comparing the two lists at both the macro and micro perspective provides the information necessary for assessing opportunities for list improvements and potential data sharing between the BLS and the BOC. Much of the initial research activities on this topic have focused on comparing and evaluating the SSEL and BEL at the microdata level. It is hoped that the research work will result in the evaluation of the following: the statistical concepts, coverage, content, and quality of both lists; the direct BOC and BLS program uses of respective list information, including data collection and product uses; and actions that could improve business list information, operations, or uses with or without new statutory authority. This paper will describe the BEL-SSEL research project and its current findings, and pose some possible questions for future research.