Better Data

Better quality data enables policymakers and researchers to more effectively measure economic and workforce development program performance outcomes. Administrative records collected by state agencies represent an invaluable resource for better quality data.

Administrative Data 101: Frequently Asked Questions

What is administrative data?

Administrative data refers to information collected by federal, state, and local government agencies and government-funded service providers—usually during the delivery of a service—for the purposes of registration, transaction, and record keeping, in compliance with government reporting regulations.

Administrative data can be derived from several sources, including:

  • Corporate and individual tax records
  • Housing and loan applications
  • Unemployment insurance records
  • Social Security payment records
  • Educational attainment records
  • Birth, death, and marriage records
  • Vehicle registration and driver licensing
  • Court records

The data collected become the administrative record.

What is microdata?

The individual data points, or "data elements," collected by government agencies as part of the administration of public services are called microdata. These data are created when companies or individuals answer specific questions on official forms, during surveys, etc.

What are the benefits of using administrative data for economic & workforce development policy analysis & program evaluation?

Using administrative data can reduce inefficiencies in the evaluation process and improve the quality of evaluation findings.

Evaluation Process Benefits Evaluation Quality Benefits
  • Streamlined filing formats and storage systems can facilitate easier generation of data sets for analysis and evaluation.
  • Using administrative data eliminates the costs and inefficiencies associated with alternative methods of data collection (e.g., census and/or sample surveys)
  • Using administrative data reduces the burden on businesses asked to report the same information to multiple agencies.
  • All non-exempt companies are required to submit corporate tax and UI filings, creating comprehensive data sets versus representative samples.
  • Corporate tax and UI filings provide microdata on companies and workers, enabling more precise analysis.
  • The data are collected regularly from the same companies, permitting consistent analysis over extended time periods (longitudinal analysis).
What are the most common sources of administrative data used for economic and workforce development policy analysis and program evaluation?

Microdata collected in corporate tax records and unemployment insurance records are often used to conduct statistical analyses related to economic and workforce development programs. These types of administrative records include data elements that can answer key questions about program participation rates, changes in companies' performance and workers' economic status, and many others.

Examples of data elements available in corporate tax and unemployment insurance records include:

Corporate Tax Data Unemployment Insurance Data
  • State taxable income
  • Value of tax credits claimed
  • Jobs created, attributable to tax credit program(s)
  • Employment
  • Wages
  • Occupation (only in some states)

To learn more about the value of using microdata in these records to conduct policy analysis and program evaluation for economic and workforce development, visit Better Analysis.