Census Bureau: Data Collection Begins for Phase 4 of Small Business Pulse Survey

In response to the significant and continuing economic disruptions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and the urgent need for data, the U.S. Census Bureau launched a fourth phase of the Small Business Pulse Survey (SBPS) with data collection on Feb. 15. This experimental survey was designed to measure temporal economic trends in the nation’s small businesses. It is expected to run for approximately nine weeks and differs slightly from prior phases in the number and content of some questions.

As with the three prior SBPS phases, responses will be posted within one week of collection and provide insight into the scope of the impact of the pandemic response on economic measures in the United States.

The SBPS includes questions on topics such as location closings, changes in employment, disruptions in the supply chain, the use of federal assistance initiatives such as the Paycheck Protection Program, vaccine requirements, planned capital expenditures, and expectations concerning future operations. The survey takes only minutes to complete. Each week, we will send the survey to approximately 100,000 small businesses and ask them to respond within one week. Over the course of nine weeks, nearly one million small businesses will receive an invitation to participate. This survey defines small businesses as having a single location with one to 499 employees.

Results of the SBPS inform the public, businesses and policymakers about how changes in business operations, employment, hours, and the availability of consumer goods and services are impacting American life. The data, which will be posted weekly Feb. 25 to April 22, includes estimates for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the nation’s 50 most populated metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). 

Running in parallel with the SBPS is a demographic experimental product known as the Household Pulse Survey, which is currently in an extended third phase. The Household Pulse Survey was designed in collaboration with other federal statistical agencies to document temporal trends in how individuals are experiencing business curtailment and closures, stay-at-home orders, school closures, changes in the availability of consumer goods and consumer patterns, and other abrupt and significant changes to American life. The extension of Phase 3 also includes questions related to the COVID-19 vaccine. The Census Bureau produces and disseminates Household Pulse Survey data on a biweekly basis. The sample is designed to produce estimates for all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the nation’s 15 largest MSAs. 

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