Census Bureau To Add Coronavirus-Related Questions To Its Business Surveys

The Census Bureau is adding COVID-19-related questions to a handful of business surveys it conducts, according to regulatory filings submitted this week.

In a letter to the Office of Management and Budget, Census Bureau Deputy Director Ron Jarmin said that the questions are being added to the surveys immediately and that the “information is essential to the U.S. Census Bureau’s emergency response to the COVID‐19 Pandemic.”

The questions — which ask businesses how the coronavirus outbreak has affected their operations in terms of closures, staffing and supply chain issues — are being added to five surveys that have been designated as Primary Economic Indicators.

“As Primary Economic Indicators, each of these surveys produce timely and closely‐watched statistics about the health of the U.S economy,” Jarmin said in the letter to OMB. “Given the importance of these indicator surveys and of the statistics they produce, it is imperative we measure to what extent businesses have been impacted in terms of their ability to maintain operations during this turbulent period.”

The OMB approved the Census Bureau’s emergency request to add the questions. The surveys getting COVID-19 questions added to them are the Manufacturers’ Shipments, Inventories & Orders (M3) Survey; Building Permits Survey; Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey; Monthly Retail Surveys; and the Quarterly Services Survey.

Read Jarmin’s OMB letter and screenshots of what the questions will look like on the surveys below:

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