Employment and Wages Online Annual Averages, 2012
The annual bulletin Employment and Wages contains employment
and wage data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program
aggregated by industry at the national, state, and county levels.
This web-only publication, Employment and Wages Online, is the successor to the annual print bulletin,
Employment and Wages. The 2008 issue of the Employment and Wages bulletin was the final edition to be issued
on paper in March 2010.
The graphs that appeared in the print publication are no longer produced for the web-only publication. The
newest improvement to the E&W comes in the form of interactive tables. The replacement tables include monthly
employment and quarterly establishment and wage data for more series. The new tables include wage information
for size data tables, which had not been available in the old tables. Questions regarding these data can be
addressed to the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program by calling (202) 691-6567 or by using
any of the channels provided on the QCEW contact page on the BLS Web site at
The quarterly County Employment and Wages news releases produced by the QCEW program as
well as PDFs of all 2012 QCEW news releases can be found at the
QCEW news release archive.
County Employment and Wages news releases present employment and wages by county and are
released approximately 6 months after the reference quarter. With continuous process improvements,
the QCEW is now on an accelerated schedule to release data earlier than in previous years.
All data, at each level of geography, can be found at QCEW databases. All
tables in this publication are available as PDFs on the above Web site. Questions regarding
these data can be addressed to the QCEW program by calling (202) 691-6567 or by
Business Employment Dynamics (BED) news releases present gross job gains and losses
and are released approximately 8 months after the reference quarter. BED also began
publishing data on an accelerated schedule by releasing the second quarter 2010 data
two weeks earlier than previous releases. (These BED data were first released in September
2003.) Questions about BED data can be directed to the information line at (202) 691-6467
or by e-mail.
Material in this publication is in the public domain and, with appropriate credit,
may be reproduced without permission. This information is available to sensory-impaired
individuals on request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service: 1 (800) 877-8339.
The following members of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Office of Employment and
Unemployment Statistics prepared this publication under the Division of Administrative
Statistics and Labor Turnover, Richard L. Clayton, Chief: Michael B. Buso, Jennifer Cruz,
John Dickson, Paul E. Ferree, David A. Ivory, Spencer A. Jobe, Keith G. Keel,
Jay Miller, Monique Ortiz, Masa Shirako, Peter Smith, Richard E. Wise III, Linda Wohlford, and Phoebe Yung of
the Current Data Analysis Branch, David R. H. Hiles, Chief; Akbar Sadeghi and Eric Simants
of the State Operations and Frame Research Branch, David M. Talan, Chief.
Data were prepared and processed by: Ian Preston, Hyunjoo Reed, and Shirley Tsai of the
Division of Business Establishment Systems, Arthur Yao, Division Chief; Jacob Gabiam,
Larry Lie, Reuel Paredes, William Plaskie, Carolyn Raines-Fein, and Shane Warren of the
DBES Procedures Branch, Stephen Lashick, Branch Chief; Zipora Abzug, Noel Cox, Patricia Felder,
Ali Latif, Kimberly Stephens, Natasha Tsyryulnikova, and Pat Walker of the DBES Systems Branch,
Augustine Moonjelly, Branch Chief.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS; the Bureau) wishes to express its appreciation to U.S. employers for their continued cooperation
in providing establishment-level data on the Multiple Worksite Report (MWR) form. This
information for each business location is critical to the accurate distribution of employment
and wage data to the appropriate geographical area and specific industry. If businesses did
not provide this level of detail, the quality of the data would be adversely affected.
State workforce agencies that collect data from employers also play a primary role in
this ongoing program. The efforts of staff at these agencies in verifying, editing, and
supplying high-quality data to BLS are essential to the accuracy of this bulletin and are
appreciated. We also would like to express our gratitude for the dedicated work of the BLS
staff in the Electronic Data Interchange Center and in the regional offices for their ongoing
efforts to improve the quality of data provided in this bulletin.
Data contained in this publication represent the complete and final count of employment
and wages for workers covered by State Unemployment Insurance
(UI) laws and the
Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) program during 2012 for the 50 States, the District
of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Data are aggregated by geography at
the county, metropolitan statistical area, combined statistical area, State, and national
levels; by ownership under private industry or Federal, State, or local government; and by
industry as defined under the 2012 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). County,
State, and national level aggregates appear in the tables in this publication. These data are
the product of a Federal-State cooperative program, the Quarterly Census of Employment and
Wages (QCEW), also referenced as ES-202. State workforce agencies compile the data for both
private- and public-sector workers from reports filed by employers each quarter and report it
to the BLS.
In 2012, BLS derived totals of 9.1 million establishments, 131.7 million employed, and
$6.5 trillion in wages, from reports submitted to State workforce agencies by every employer
covered by UI or by UCFE. Of these employers, those in private industry provided State workforce
agencies with quarterly tax reports on monthly employment, quarterly total and taxable wages, and
contributions for an average of 110.6 million wage and salary employees in approximately 8.8 million
business establishments. Similar reports of monthly employment and quarterly wages were submitted by
the Federal Government for 2.8 million civilian employees, by State governments for 4.5 million
employees, and by local governments for 13.7 million employees. UI-covered employment reported by
these sources constituted a virtual census (97.2 percent) of employees on nonfarm payrolls. The
principal exclusions from UI and UCFE coverage are cited in Characteristics and Uses of the Data,
which follows this introduction. BLS presents data by ownership, industry,
and State. These data include the average number of establishments, average annual employment,
total wages, and annual and average weekly wages per employee. Additionally, the Bureau publishes
national employment and wage totals for 11 supersectors, 20 sectors, and all 1,083 six-digit
NAICS industries. County-level data include number of establishments, December employment, and
average weekly wage. Private-sector data are presented by State, from the total private ownership
level to the 6-digit NAICS industries.
Private-sector data also are presented by national gross job
gains and losses. State, local, and Federal Government data are detailed for selected industries.
QCEW data for 2011 forward are classified according to the
NAICS 2012. For more information on the classification systems
used by the QCEW program, please refer to the QCEW Industry Classification page.
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NOTE: The tables have undergone substantial changes as part of the redesign of the Employment and Wages Online
Annual Averages, 2012 release. To retrieve comparable data, please refer to the information provided below. New tables have improved
- Total coverage (UI and UCFE) by ownership: Establishments, employment, and wages, 2002 to 2012 annual
averages. UI and UCFE is equivalent to Total All Ownerships. UI is comparable to Total All Ownerships less Federal government
- Private industry by six-digit NAICS industry or higher and government by level of government, 2012 annual
averages: Establishments, employment, and wages, change from 2011. Annual data and over the year change options are available
under formatting options, which can be selected after data is retrieved. (HTML)
- Private industry by supersector and size of establishment: Establishments and employment, first quarter
- Private industry by supersector and size of establishment: Establishments and employment, first quarter 2012,
by State. (HTML)
- Total coverage (UI and UCFE) by State, 2012 annual averages: Establishments, employment, and wages, change from
2011. UI and UCFE is equivalent to Total Covered. UI is equivalent to Total U.I. Covered. Annual data and over the year change
options are available under formatting options, which can be selected after data is retrieved.
- Private industry by State, 2012 annual averages: Establishments, employment, and wages, change from 2011. Annual
data and over the year change options are available under formatting options, which can be selected after data is retrieved.
- Federal Government by State and selected industries: Establishments, employment, and wages, 2012
annual averages. (HTML)
- State government by State and selected industries: Establishments, employment, and wages, 2012 annual
- Local government by State and selected industries: Establishments, employment, and wages, 2012 annual
- Private industry by State and six-digit NAICS industry: Establishments, employment, and wages, 2012 annual
- Covered establishments, employment, and wages in the 334 largest counties, first quarter 2012.
- 12. Private-sector gross job gains and losses, seasonally adjusted, September 2002 to December 2012.
See Table 1 on page 8. (PDF)
- 13. Private-sector gross job gains and losses by industry, seasonally adjusted, December 2011 to December 2012.
See Table 3 on pages 10-12. (PDF)
- Private sector gross job gains and losses by state, seasonally adjusted, December 2011 to December 2012.
See Table 6 on page 15. (PDF)
- Private sector gross job gains and losses as a percent of total employment by State, seasonally adjusted,
December 2011 to December 2012. See Table 7 on page 16. (PDF)
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Characteristics of the data
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
compiled the data in this publication as part of the operations of its
Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program. Data are derived from
the quarterly tax reports submitted to State workforce agencies by employers,
subject to State UI laws and from Federal agencies subject to the Unemployment
Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) program. Each quarter, State agencies
edit and process the data and send the information to the Bureau’s national
office in Washington, DC. The QCEW program provides the most complete set of
monthly employment and quarterly wage data by 6-digit industry at the national,
State, combined metropolitan statistical area, metropolitan statistical area,
and county levels. Data have broad economic significance for the evaluation of
labor market trends and major industry developments, for time-series analyses,
and for interindustry comparisons.
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Unemployment insurance laws and coverage
The employer reports that form the input to the QCEW are required by the Federal
Unemployment Insurance Tax Act and its extensions. Initially, the Federal Unemployment
Insurance Tax Act (1938) applied only to firms employing at least
8 persons for a minimum of 20 weeks in a calendar year and excluded certain categories
of workers. Amendments to Title XV of the Social Security Act established the
UCFE program, which extended coverage to Federal civilian employees effective
January 1, 1955, and to workers in firms employing from four to seven workers
effective January 1, 1956.
Federal legislation, effective
January 1, 1972, extended coverage of State UI systems to firms employing one
worker or more in 28 States and expanded some of the statutory coverage
provisions. (The remaining States previously had extended coverage to these
small employers.) The 1972 legislation also brought coverage to employees of
State hospitals, colleges, and universities.
The Federal Unemployment
Compensation Amendments of 1976 incorporated major changes in State UI laws
effective January 1, 1978. Under the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA),
States expanded coverage to include nearly all remaining State and local
government employees, employees of nonprofit elementary and secondary schools,
and certain domestic workers. Some States began implementing the amendments as
early as 1976. The law also brought the U.S. Virgin Islands under the UI
The 1976 amendments covered
agricultural labor if performed for an employer who, in any calendar quarter in
the current or preceding calendar year, paid cash remuneration of $20,000 or
more to individuals employed in agricultural labor. The 1976 amendments also
apply to employers who, on each of some 20 days in 20 different weeks during
the current or preceding calendar year, employed at least 10 individuals in
Under a 1981 Supreme Court
ruling, schools affiliated with religious organizations are not required to be
covered under the UI system. Many of these schools, however, continue to cover
their employees on a voluntary basis. Special provisions for railroad workers
are made through the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act. Data for workers
covered under the Railroad Retirement Board and for those covered under the
Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemen (UCX) program are excluded from the
tables in this publication.
In a number of States, certain types
of nonprofit employers, such as religious organizations, are given a choice of
coverage or exclusion. Under FUTA, all States must cover nonprofits that employ
four or more workers. Some States have extended coverage to nonprofits
employing one or more workers. Details on coverage laws are provided in
of State Unemployment Insurance Laws, available on request from the
Employment and Training Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor, www.doleta.gov/.
While coverage is largely
consistent, comparisons of data from one State to another should take into
consideration the differences in UI laws among States. In addition, when
UI-covered private-industry employment data are compared directly with other
employment series, the coverage exclusions should be taken into account. See Table A
under Employment for details.
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Employment and wage data developed in the QCEW program have been classified by
industry since 1938. Data presented in this publication are classified in accordance
with the 2012 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). It is the product
of a cooperative effort on the part of the statistical agencies of the United States,
Canada, and Mexico.
An industrial code, based on a description provided by the employer on a questionnaire,
is assigned to each establishment by the State workforce agency. If a private or government
employer conducts different activities at various establishments or installations, separate
industrial codes are assigned, to the extent possible, to each establishment.
To ensure the highest possible quality of data, State workforce agencies verify and
update, if necessary, the NAICS, location, and ownership classifications of virtually all
establishments on a 3-year cycle. Information for government units in the public administration
sector, however, is verified less frequently. Each year, changes in establishment classification
codes resulting from the verification process are introduced with the data reported for the
QCEW data for 2007 through 2010 are classified according to the NAICS 2007. Data for 2011 forward
are classified according to the NAICS 2012. For more information on the classification systems
used by the QCEW program, please refer to the QCEW Industry Classification page.
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In general, QCEW monthly
employment data represent the number of covered workers who worked during, or
received pay for, the pay period that included the 12th day of the month.
Virtually all workers are reported in the State in which their jobs are
Covered private-industry employment includes most corporate officials, executives,
supervisory personnel, professionals, clerical workers, wage earners,
piece-workers, and part-time workers. Persons on paid sick leave, paid holiday,
paid vacation, and the like are also included. Persons on the payroll of more
than one firm during the period are counted by each UI-subject employer, if they meet
the employment definition noted previously. Workers are counted even though,
in the latter months of the year, their wages may not be subject to UI tax.
It excludes proprietors, the unincorporated self-employed, unpaid family members,
and certain farm and domestic workers. The employment count also excludes
workers who earned no wages during the entire applicable pay period because of
work stoppages, temporary layoffs, illness, or unpaid vacations.
Employment at all Federal agencies for any given month is based on the number
of persons who worked during, or received pay for, the pay period that
included the 12th of the month. Employment
data reported for Federal civilian employees are a byproduct of the operations
of State workforce agencies in administering the provisions of Title XV of the
Social Security Act—the UCFE program. Federal employment data are based on
reports of monthly employment and quarterly wages submitted each quarter to
State agencies for all Federal installations with employees covered by the Act,
except for certain national security agencies, which are omitted for security reasons.
Table A. Coverage exclusions in 2011, for selected workers
| Number Included
Wage and salary agricultural workers
Self-employed agricultural workers1
Self-employed nonagricultural workers1
Unpaid family workers1
State and local government workers
1These are out-of-scope groups, according to QCEW criteria.
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Covered employers in most States
report total compensation paid during the calendar quarter, regardless of when
the services were performed. A few State laws, however, specify that wages be
reported for, or be based on, the period during which services are
performed—rather than for the period during which compensation is paid. Under
most State laws or regulations, wages include bonuses, stock options, severance
pay, the cash value of meals and lodging, tips and other gratuities, and—in
some States—employer contributions to certain deferred compensation plans, such
as 401(k) plans.
Total wages exclusions
Covered employer contributions for old-age, survivors, and disability insurance; health
insurance; UI; workers’ compensation; and private pension and welfare funds are
not reported as wages. Employee contributions for the same purposes, however,
as well as money withheld for income taxes, union dues, and so forth are
reported, even though they are deducted from the worker’s gross pay.
Average annual wages per employee for any given industry are computed by dividing total
annual wages by annual average employment. A further division by 52 yields
average weekly wages per employee. Annual pay data only approximate annual
earnings, because an individual may not be employed by the same employer all
year or may work for more than one employer at a time.
weekly or annual pay is affected by the ratio of full-time to part-time
workers, as well as by the numbers of individuals in high- and low-paying
occupations. When comparing average pay levels among States and industries,
data users should take these factors into consideration. For example,
industries characterized by high proportions of part-time workers will show
average weekly wage levels appreciably less than the weekly pay levels of
regular full-time employees in these industries. The opposite is true of industries
with low proportions of part-time workers and of industries that typically
schedule heavy weekend and overtime work. Average wage data also may be
influenced by work stoppages, labor turnover, retroactive payments, seasonal
factors, and bonus payments.
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Establishments and employment size
establishment is an economic unit, such as a farm, mine, factory, or store that
produces goods or provides services. It is typically at a single physical location
and engaged in one, or predominantly one, type of economic activity for which a
single industrial classification may be applied. Occasionally, a single
physical location encompasses two or more distinct and significant activities.
Each activity is reported as a separate establishment, if separate records are
kept, and the various activities are classified under different NAICS
employers have only one establishment; thus, the establishment is the
predominant reporting unit or statistical entity for reporting employment and
wage data. Most employers who operate more than one establishment in a State
file a Multiple Worksite Report (MWR) each quarter, in addition to their
quarterly UI report. The MWR form is used to collect separate employment and
wage data for each of the employer’s establishments. Such data are not detailed
on the UI report. Some employers with two or more very small establishments do
not file an MWR. If the total employment in an employer’s secondary
establishments (all establishments other than the largest) is 10 or less, the
employer generally files a consolidated report for all establishments. Also,
some employers either cannot, or will not, report at the establishment level
and, thus, aggregate establishments into one consolidated unit—or possibly
several units—though not at the establishment level.
Before 1991, employers provided covered employment and wage data on a reporting
unit basis. Reporting unit data typically furnished detail only for different county
locations or industrial operations within a State. A nonstandard form, similar in
concept to the MWR and called the Statistical Supplement, was used by States to collect
these county industry data. Although reporting units were, for the most part, individual
establishments, employers could provide a summary of their employment and wage data for
multiple establishments within a county that were conducting the same type of industrial
activity. For example, a fast-food business might have submitted a single report that
covered all of its operations within a county prior to 1991; on the MWR, the employer
reports employment and wage data for each location. The MWR substantially enhanced the
accuracy of the QCEW data after 1991 and allowed the QCEW data to be a better sample frame
for other programs.
For government, the reporting unit is the installation: a single location at which a
department, agency, or other government body has civilian employees. Federal agencies
follow slightly different criteria than do private employers, when breaking down their
reports by installation. They are permitted to combine as a single statewide unit all
installations with 10 or fewer workers, if those installations belong to the same subdepartmental
unit. Reports from Cabinet-level departments are not aggregated to a department-wide level.
Departments submit separate reports for each bureau or agency (terminology for subdepartmental
units may differ) within a given department. Independent agencies report on an agency-wide basis.
As a result of these reporting rules, the number of reporting units is always larger than the
number of employers (or government agencies), but smaller than the number of actual establishments (or installations).
Data reported for the first quarter of the year were tabulated into size categories in
Tables 3 and 4, ranging from worksites with few employees to those with 1,000 or more employees.
The size category is determined by the establishment’s March employment level. It is important
to note that data for each establishment of a multi-establishment firm are tabulated separately
into the appropriate size category. The total employment level of the reporting multi-establishment
firm is not used in the size tabulation.
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In accordance with BLS policy, data reported under a promise of confidentiality
are not published in an identifiable way and are used only for specified
statistical purposes. BLS withholds the publication of UI-covered employment
and wage data for any industry level when necessary to protect the identity of
cooperating employers. Totals at the industry level for the States and the
Nation include the undisclosed data suppressed within the detailed tables.
However, these totals do not reveal the suppressed data.
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To reduce the effect of the exclusion of data because of late reporting by covered
private and government employers, State agencies impute employment and wages
for such employers and include them in each quarterly report. Corrections to
data that may be entered after a report is filed include replacement of
imputations with reported data to the extent possible. Imputations are
calculated at the individual establishment level, normally from historical data
reported by the employer. Sometimes trends reported by employers in the same
industry and information obtained from other sources also are used. If a report
remains delinquent for more than one quarter and research shows that it is
still active, the data for the establishment will again be imputed.
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Comparison of QCEW employment data with other series
The BLS publishes three different establishment-based employment measures for any
given quarter. Each of these measures-the QCEW, BED, and CES-makes use of the
quarterly UI employment reports in producing data. Each measure, however, has a
somewhat different universe of coverage and estimation procedure, and each
produces a different publication. Other data series are briefly covered here.
Business Employment Dynamics
Business Employment Dynamics (BED) data are a product of the QCEW program. BED
data are compiled by BLS from existing quarterly State UI records. Most employers
in the United States are required to file quarterly reports on the employment and wages
of workers covered by UI laws and to pay quarterly UI taxes. Quarterly UI reports are
sent by State workforce agencies to the Bureau and form the basis of the BLS establishment
sampling frame. These reports also are used to produce quarterly QCEW data on total
employment and wages and the longitudinal BED data on gross job gains and losses. Other
important BLS uses of the UI reports are in the CES program.
In the BED program, the quarterly UI records are linked across quarters to provide a
longitudinal history for each establishment. The linkage process allows the tracking of
net employment changes at the establishment level, in turn allowing the estimation of
jobs gained at opening and expanding establishments and of jobs lost at closing and
Please see the BED section below for a more detail description of BED data.
Current Employment Statistics
BLS and State workforce agencies cooperate in the Current Employment Statistics
(CES) program. In this program, State agencies are responsible for preparing current
employment estimates for the States and for many metropolitan labor market
areas, while BLS is responsible for producing monthly employment estimates for
the Nation. CES estimates of employment, average weekly and hourly earnings,
and average weekly hours are derived from an employer survey of approximately
486,000 nonfarm establishments, selected primarily from the QCEW administrative
records of UI-covered employers. The national and State industry CES estimates
are then benchmarked annually to QCEW employment data. Supplemental sources are
used in benchmarking industries that have workers that are not covered.
Current Population Survey
The Current Population Survey (CPS) is published monthly by BLS. CPS
employment data are estimated from a survey of about 60,000 U.S. households,
while QCEW employment data are summarized from quarterly reports submitted by
9.1 million U.S. establishments. CPS counts employed persons, whereas the QCEW
program counts covered workers who earned wages during the pay period that
includes the 12th of the month. Consequently, CPS includes persons “with a job
but not at work” who earn no wages—for example, workers on extended unpaid
leaves of absence. QCEW data, by contrast, exclude unpaid workers. QCEW data
count separately each job held by multiple jobholders. CPS counts such workers
once, in the job at which they worked the most hours. CPS counts employed
persons at their place of residence; the QCEW program counts jobs at the place
of work. CPS also differs from the QCEW program, in that it includes
self-employed persons; unpaid family workers employed 15 or more hours during
the survey period; and a greater proportion of agricultural and domestic
workers. CPS data exclude persons under age 16, while the QCEW program counts
all covered workers, regardless of age.
Office of Personnel Management data
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM)
publishes a statistical series on Federal employment and payrolls with
information on employing agencies, types of positions and appointments, and
characteristics of employees. Data on Federal employment covered by the UCFE
series provide industry, local area, and monthly employment detail not
available in the OPM series.
Both UCFE and OPM data exclude
members of the Armed Forces, temporary emergency workers employed to cope with
catastrophes, and officers and crew members of some U.S. vessels. UCFE and OPM
data differ in coverage of workers. For example, UCFE, but not OPM, includes
Department of Defense workers paid from nonappropriated funds and employees of
county agricultural stabilization and conservation committees, State and area
marketing committees, and the Agricultural Extension Service. OPM, but not
UCFE, includes workers who are not U.S. citizens and who are employed outside
the United States and its territories; workers paid on a contract or fee basis;
paid patients or inmates of Federal homes, hospitals, or institutions; and
student employees of Federal hospitals, clinics, or laboratories.
The UCFE and OPM programs also
differ in the payroll reference period. UCFE employment data relate to the
payroll period that includes the 12th day of the month. OPM data, however,
relate to persons employed on the last workday of the month, plus all
County Business Patterns
Employment data collected through the QCEW program differ from employment
data published in the Census Bureau’s County Business
Patterns (CBP) in the following major ways:
- QCEW data are published each
quarter, with a 6-month lag. CBP data are published annually, with approximately
an 18-month lag.
- QCEW data and CBP data are classified under different industry classification systems.
QCEW data before 2001 were
tabulated based on the 1987 SIC system; data from 2001-2006 are
tabulated based on the NAICS 2002, data from 2007-2010 are
tabulated based on the NAICS 2007, and data from 2011 forward are
tabulated based on the NAICS 2012.Data for 1990-2000 are available
through the QCEW NAICS history project.
- CBP data for 1997 and earlier are
tabulated based on the SIC system; data from 1998-2002 are
tabulated based on the NAICS 1997; data from 2003-2007 are tabulated based
on the NAICS 2002 and data from 2008-2009 are tabulated based on the NAICS 2007.
Uses of the data
QCEW data are widely used by federal statistical agencies, BLS surveys, and other public and
private establishments as a basis for their statistics and research publications.
Bureau of Economic Analysis
The Bureau of Economic Analysis
of the U.S. Department of Commerce uses QCEW data as a base for developing the national, state,
and local area wage and salary component of personal income. Personal income is a major part
of the National Income and Product Accounts and the Regional Economic Accounts. QCEW wages
accounted for 47.2 percent of total personal income and 93.7 percent of the wage and salary
component of personal income in 2012.
The BEA also revises annual estimates according to QCEW wage and salary disbursements data.
QCEW wages, which include irregular pay, such as bonuses and gains from the exercise of stock
options, are more comprehensive. Personal Income estimates for prior quarters are revised each
release. The revised estimates reflect the inclusion of newly available tabulations of prior
quarter QCEW wage data.
Social Security Administration
The Social Security
Administration (SSA) uses QCEW data as a quality check against data provided by the Internal
Revenue Service (IRS). This allows SSA to improve its estimates of Old Age and Survivors and
Disability Insurance (OASDI) and Hospital Insurance (HI) covered and taxable wages and
employment for the most recent historical periods. This, in turn, allows the Treasury to
make more accurate transfers from the general fund to the OASDI and HI trust funds. For
the annual Trustees Reports, this provides legislators and the general public with more
accurate estimates of the effects of present and proposed legislation on the future status
of the OASDI and HI trust funds.
SSA also uses QCEW data as a quality check against data provided by employers on Forms W-2.
This allows them to improve their estimates of the average U.S. wage for the latest prior historical
year. Each October, the SSA estimates the annual U.S. wage for the prior year to set the Average
Wage Index (AWI) for that year. This, in turn, is used to set automatic adjustments in the contribution
and benefit base, bend points, earnings test exempt amounts, and other wage-indexed amounts for the
Employment and Training Administration
The QCEW program provides data necessary to both the Employment and
Training Administration (ETA) of the U.S. Department of Labor and
State workforce agencies for use in administering the workforce security program. QCEW data accurately reflect the extent
of coverage of State UI laws. These data are used to measure UI revenues; national, State, and
local area employment; and total and UI-taxable wage trends. The information is used as an input
for actuarial studies, determination of employer UI tax experience ratings, and UI maximum weekly
benefit levels. Research using QCEW data helps measure the solvency of UI trust funds. States also
use monthly QCEW employment data in the calculation of insured unemployment rates (IUR) for
federal-state extended benefits (EB) triggers.
The Census Bureau uses QCEW program industrial classification information
to assign industry codes to some employers in their
Business Registry (BR).
Since 1991, under a directive from the Office of Management and Budget, the
Census Bureau has requested assistance from BLS with industrial classification
information from its Business Establishment
List (BEL). This project is
conducted to maintain and strengthen industrial classifications on the Census
Bureau’s BR, which is the sampling frame for their establishment
surveys. The sharing of these codes reduces costs and respondent burden.
Also, increased consistency of industry codes leads to greater uniformity in the
resulting economic data flowing from the BLS and the Census Bureau at national,
state, and county levels. Consequently, the data produced from these agencies
using input from BLS and Census Bureau are of higher quality. For example,
state and county personal income estimates from the Bureau of Economic Analysis
(BEA) will benefit from consistent coding.
Bureau of Labor Statistics
QCEW data also are important for
a variety of other BLS programs. A quarterly file containing employer name and
address information serves as a sampling frame for BLS establishment-based
surveys, such as the National Compensation Survey, the Current Employment
Statistics (CES) program, the Employment Cost Index (ECI), the Injuries,
Illness, and Fatalities (IIF) program, the Job Openings and Labor Turnover
Survey (JOLTS), and the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey. QCEW
data also serve as the basic source of benchmark information for employment by
industry in the CES program, the IIF program, and the OES Survey.
QCEW data are used by businesses
and by public and private research organizations for economic forecasting,
transportation planning, industry and regional analysis, impact studies, and
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How to obtain publications and data
Recent and historical data may be obtained from the QCEW program.
Previous editions of Employment and Wages Annual Averages are out
of print, but file copies may be examined at the BLS Washington office and at
Federal Depository Libraries. For assistance in obtaining QCEW data, a QCEW
analyst can be reached by telephone at (202) 691-6567, or by
e-mail. Requests also may be sent by mail to the
Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, Division of Administrative
Statistics and Labor Turnover, Room 4840, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S.
Department of Labor, Washington, DC 20212. The request should include the name
and telephone number of an individual whom BLS staff may contact, if necessary.
Most State workforce agencies
have QCEW employment and wage data for both the private and government sectors
by county and for major labor market areas. If data provided by the BLS Web
site are insufficient, requests for these detailed data should be made directly
to State agencies. Data for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are also
available and may be obtained from the State workforce agencies in those
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Business Employment Dynamics
The Business Employment Dynamics (BED) data are a product of the QCEW program.
BED data are compiled by BLS from existing quarterly State UI records for nonhousehold
private employers and are supplemented with MWR records. In the BED program, UI records are
linked across quarters to provide a longitudinal history for each privately owned establishment.
The linkage process allows the tracking of net employment changes at the establishment level,
which in turn allows the estimation of jobs gained at opening and expanding establishments
and jobs lost at closing and contracting establishments.
The linkage process initially matches establishments´ unique UI identification
numbers assigned by the State workforce agencies. Between 95 and 97 percent of establishments
identified as continuous from quarter to quarter are matched by UI numbers. The rest are
linked in one of three ways. The first method uses predecessor and successor information,
identified by the State workforce agencies, to relate records with different UI numbers
across quarters. Predecessor and successor relationships can come about for a variety of
reasons, including a change in ownership, a firm´s restructuring, or a UI account´s
restructuring. If a match cannot be attained in this manner, a probability-based match is used.
This match attempts to identify two establishments with different UI numbers as continuous.
The match is based upon establishments having the same business name, address, and phone number.
Third, an analyst examines unmatched records individually and attempts to make a possible match.
The change in employment at the establishment level results from one of four types of events.
An increase in employment can come from either opening establishments or expanding
establishments. A decrease in employment can come from either closing establishments
or contracting establishments. Gross job gains include the sum of all jobs
added at either opening or expanding establishments. Gross job losses include the sum
of all jobs lost in either closing or contracting establishments. The net change in employment
is the difference between gross job gains and gross job losses.
The formal definitions of establishment-level employment changes are as follows:
These are establishments either with positive third-month employment for the
first time in the current quarter and with no links to the previous quarter or
with positive third-month employment in the current quarter following zero
employment in the previous quarter.
These are establishments with positive employment in the third month in both
the previous and current quarters and with an increase in employment over this
These are establishments with positive third-month employment in the previous
quarter and with either no employment or zero employment reported in the
Contractions. These are establishments with positive employment in the third month in both
the previous and current quarters and with a decrease in employment from the
previous to the current quarter.
establishment-level employment changes are measured from the third month of
each quarter. Not all establishments change their employment levels; these
establishments count towards estimates of total employment, but not for levels
of gross job gains and gross job losses.
With the publication of its
first quarter data for 2007, the BED program announced a one-time revision to
its historical data series. According to this announcement, all
historical BED series back to third quarter 1992 have been revised for both
seasonally adjusted and not seasonally adjusted series to incorporate updated
and improved input data. In the future, annual revisions to BED series will be
published each year with the release of first quarter data. Those revisions
will cover the last four quarters of not seasonally adjusted data and 5 years
of seasonally adjusted data.
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QCEW-related Articles Published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Established in 1915, the Monthly Labor Review is the principal journal of fact, analysis, and research of the Bureau
of Labor Statistics. Another BLS publication, Beyond the Numbers, focuses on short form
analysis along with graphics and maps. In 2012 and 2013, these publications released several articles at least
partly based on QCEW, Business Employment Dynamics (BED), or Unemployment Insurance (UI) data. The articles are
High-employment-growth firms: defining and counting them
Linking firms with establishments in BLS microdata
Employment and wage changes in oil-producing counties in the Bakken Formation, 2007-2011
Changes in federal and state unemployment insurance legislation in 2012
Atlanta's thriving air transportation industry: employment and wages, 1990-2010
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Last Modified Date: September 26, 2013