Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index: A New Employment Series for the US, Canada, and the UK

Small and young businesses are essential for job creation, innovation, and economic growth. Even most of the superstar firms start their business life small and then grow over time. Small firms have less internal resources, which makes them more fragile and sensitive to macroeconomic conditions. This suggests the need for frequent and real-time monitoring of the small business sector’s health. Previously this was difficult due to a lack of appropriate data. This paper fills this important gap by developing a new Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index that focuses on the smallest of small businesses with at most 9 workers in the US and the UK and at most 19 workers in Canada. The Index aggregates a sample of anonymous Quick- Books Online Payroll subscriber data (QBO Payroll sample) from 333,000 businesses in the US, 66,000 in Canada, and 25,000 in the UK. After comparing the QBO Payroll sample data to the official statistics, we remove the seasonal components and use a Flexible Least Squares method to calibrate the QBO Payroll sample data against official statistics. Finally, we use the estimated model and the QBO Payroll sample data to generate a near real-time index of economic activity. We show that the estimated model performs well both in-sample and out-of-sample. Additionally, we use this analysis for different regions and industries. Keywords:

11. May 2023

Authors Ufuk Akcigit Raman Chhina Seyit Cilasun Javier Miranda Eren Ocakverdi Nicolas Serrano-Velarde

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