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'91 PAYROLL SURVEY ESTIMATE 'DIP' WAS REPORTING PHENOMENON, ACCORDING TO AMERICAN STATISTICAL ASSOCIATION

 ALEXANDRIA, Va., April 12 /PRNewswire/ -- The March 1991 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revision to monthly payroll survey estimates, which was an unexpected -640,000 (-0.6 percent), was caused by a one- time non-economic phenomenon associated with improved reporting, an independent American Statistical Association (ASA) panel has concluded.
 Asked by BLS to investigate the causes of the downward revision, the ASA panel agreed with BLS's conclusion that a change in data reporting procedures for the universe counts used to generate the annual benchmarks likely led to a large downward correction to the universe data generated in January 1991. The correction, according to ASA, was magnified by the extensive growth over the past decade in the use of payroll processing firms and their standard industry software to file the required Unemployment Insurance (UI) tax returns on which the universe counts are based. (These payroll processing firms introduced new software in January 1991 that eliminated some overcounting of employment totals prior to that date.)
 Based on this finding, the ASA panel recommended that BLS wedge in the non-economic portion over the previous 10 years -- that period roughly corresponds to the dates over which the use of payroll processing software became an important method of filing UI tax forms. In addition, since BLS has collected time series information on the number of firms whose returns were based on such software, the panel recommended that BLS also use this information to determine the amount of overall revision that is allotted to each year.
 Given the importance of the payroll data and the extensive media coverage surrounding the 1991 data revision, the ASA panel recommended that BLS publish its research in one of its periodic publications for the benefit of concerned data users.
 BLS does not plan to revise the UI database. There are many other users of this database in the government. ASA suggested that, at a minimum, BLS should make it clear to users that the database is in error and size the March differences for users.
 The American Statistical Association, founded in 1839 and one of the oldest professional associations in the country, is dedicated to fostering statistics and its applications, to improving unity and effectiveness of effort among all concerned with statistical problems, and to increasing the contribution of statistics to human welfare, ASA's 18,500 members in the United States, Canada, and abroad serve in government, academia, and industry. Early ASA members included Florence Nightingale, Martin Van Buren, and Alexander Graham Bell.
 -0- 4/12/93
 /NOTE: For a copy of the full ASA Panel Report, please call the number below or fax, 703-684-2037/
 /CONTACT: Marilyn Humm of the American Statistical Association, 703-684-1221/


CO: American Statistical Association ST: Virginia

IN: SU: ECO

IH-MH -- DC009 -- 4682 04/12/93 10:11 EDT
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Date:Apr 12, 1993
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