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Data Quality: 2012

Nonsampling Errors: Although every effort is made in all phases of collection, processing, and tabulation to minimize errors, the data are subject to nonsampling errors such as inability to obtain data for every variable from all units in the population of interest, inaccuracies in classification, response errors, misinterpretation of questions, mistakes in keying and coding, and coverage errors. The Data Processing section describes our efforts to mitigate errors due to nonresponse, keying, reporting errors, etc.

Modal Distribution: Each respondent that received a mail questionnaire had the option of returning the paper questionnaire, reporting data using a collection instrument, or working directly with staff members to report over the phone, fax or email. In addition, some governments have developed alternative reporting arrangements, known as central collection. The following table shows the response distribution by mode for state and local governments that reported to the Census of Governments: Survey of Public Employment & Payroll.

State Governments Local Governments
Web 24.4% 49.5%
Paper 9.3% 39.3%
Central Collection 64.9% 0.6%
Other 1.4% 10.6%

Overall Unit Response Rate: The overall unit response rate to the 2012 Census of Governments: Survey of Public Employment & Payroll was 81.3 percent. All of the 50 state governments responded to the survey.

Total Quantity Response Rate: The Total Quantity Response Rate was also calculated for the key variables for each state. This response rate is computed separately for each key variable by summing the data provided by the respondents for the key variable and dividing this sum by the sum of the respondent data and the imputed data for the key variable. The result is multiplied by 100. Total Quantity Response Rates for total employment and total payroll for each state are available in the response rate files.

The Census Bureau's quality standard on releasing data products requires a 70 percent Total Quantity Response Rate (TQRR) for key variables. Although the unit response rates are well above the 60 percent Census Bureau’s quality standard for most states, New Mexico, at the local and the state and local government levels, fell below this standard. Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Washington state and local data fall below 70 percent, for the TQRRs for at least one key item. There are 14 states (Connecticut, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington) that fall below this level for at least one key item at the local government level. Additionally, there are five states (Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon, and Rhode Island) that are noncompliant for at least one TQRR key item for the state data. Files of the unit response rates and TQRRs for all states are available in the Response Rate Tables section.

Response Rate Tables

State & Local Response Rates [TXT, 6KB] – Unit and Total Quantity response rates by state for state and local governments combined

Local Response Rates [TXT, 6KB] – Unit and Total Quantity response rates by state for local governments


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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Government Employment & Payroll | govs.employ@census.gov |  Last Revised: March 06, 2014