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Automation Strategies for the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) Program

Michael A. Searson


With potentially declining budgets and increasing workloads, the QCEW program faces enormous challenges for the next decade. QCEW is the cornerstone of the other statistical surveys of businesses at BLS, since it is used extensively as a sampling frame and population controls for employment levels. QCEW uses the administrative records of the State's Unemployment Insurance (UI) system and supplements these data with information collected from two surveys. Since these data are administrative based, BLS has no option but to process all of these data.

This paper focuses on efforts to automate and reduce burden and decrease data collection and processing costs of the surveys—-the Annual Refiling Survey (ARS) and Multiple Worksite Report (MWR). The ARS is used to review and update the industrial and geographical codes initially assigned to an employer. The MWR is used to collect employment, wages, and business identification information for each establishment from large employers. This paper addresses the current use of a pilot Touch-tone Data Entry system for the ARS and future research projects as well as the electronic collection of the MWR data, and future Web-based projects