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Evaluating Sample Design Issues in the National Compensation Survey

Gwyn R. Ferguson, Chester H. Ponikowski, and Joan Coleman


The National Compensation Survey is conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to measure employment cost levels and trends, incidence of employer-provided benefits, benefit plan provisions, occupational earnings by geographic area, and occupational pay comparisons between areas. The current survey design uses a three stage sample design to select samples of areas, establishments, and jobs for which wage and benefit data are collected periodically over a five-year rotation. In recent years, several potential changes to this design have been explored due to budget cuts, known issues with the current design, and an on-going effort to make the survey more efficient. This paper will discuss the issues and alternative approaches to the current design that have been explored and presents some recommended changes to the general survey design.