The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages Program is a cooperative program involving the Bureau of Labor
Statistics (BLS) of the U.S. Department of Labor and
the State Employment Security Agencies (SESAs). The QCEW program produces a
comprehensive tabulation of employment and wage information for workers covered by State
unemployment insurance (UI) laws and Federal workers covered by the Unemployment
Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) program. Publicly available files
include data on the number of establishments, monthly employment, and
quarterly wages, by NAICS industry, by county, by ownership sector, for the
entire United States. These data are aggregated to annual levels, to higher
industry levels (NAICS industry groups, sectors, and supersectors), and to
higher geographic levels (national, State, and Metropolitan Statistical Area
The QCEW program serves as a near census of monthly employment and quarterly wage
information by 6-digit NAICS industry at the national, State, and county levels. At the national
level, the QCEW program publishes employment and wage data for nearly
every NAICS industry. At the State and area level, the QCEW program publishes employment
and wage data down to the 6-digit NAICS industry level, if disclosure restrictions are met. In
accordance with BLS policy, data provided to the Bureau in confidence are not published
and are used only for specified statistical purposes. BLS withholds 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 nondisclosable data suppressed within the detailed tables. However,
these totals cannot be used to reveal the suppressed data.
Employment data under the QCEW program represent the number of covered workers who
worked during, or received pay for, the pay period including the 12th of the month.
Excluded are members of the armed forces, the self-employed, proprietors, domestic
workers, unpaid family workers, and railroad workers covered by the railroad unemployment
insurance system. Wages represent total compensation paid during the calendar quarter,
regardless of when services were performed. Included in wages are pay for vacation and
other paid leave, bonuses, stock options, tips, the cash value of meals and lodging, and
in some States, contributions to deferred compensation plans (such as 401(k) plans). The
QCEW program does provide partial information on agricultural industries and employees
in private households.
Data from the QCEW program serve as an important input to many BLS programs. The
QCEW data are used as the benchmark source for employment by the Current
Employment Statistics program and the Occupational Employment
Statistics program. The UI administrative records collected under the QCEW program
serve as a sampling frame for BLS establishment surveys.
In addition, data from the QCEW program serve as an input to other Federal and State
programs. The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of
the Department of Commerce uses QCEW data as the base for developing the wage and salary
component of personal income. The Employment and Training
Administration (ETA) of the Department of Labor and the SESAs use QCEW data to
administer the employment security program. The QCEW data accurately reflect the extent
of coverage of the State UI laws and are used to measure UI revenues; national, State and
local area employment; and total and UI taxable wage trends.
BLS publishes data from the QCEW program every quarter in the County
Employment and Wages press release. This is usually released 6 to
7 months after the end of the quarter. The QCEW program also
publishes a subset of its quarterly data through the
Create Customized Tables system, and full quarterly industry detail data
at all geographic levels in ASCII files through our FTP
In addition, QCEW publishes the annual bulletin Employment and
Wages, Annual Averages about 10 months after the end of the year.
The 2002 edition is the first to appear on the internet in its
entirety. For more information about this, please see the Publications
section of our home page. Also, the cooperating SESAs issue quarterly
and/or annual reports of QCEW data.
Last Modified Date: December 18, 2003