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August 2006, Vol. 129, No.8
Hurricane Katrina’s effects on industry employment and wages
Molly Garber, Linda Unger, James White, and Linda Wohlford
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has two programs that measure employment and wages by industry: The Current Employment Statistics (CES) program and the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program. Both operate as Federal-State cooperative programs in which BLS partners with workforce agencies in each State.
The CES program surveys approximately 400,000 business establishments nationwide and publishes estimates of employment, hours, and earnings for the Nation, States, and metropolitan areas. Estimates are released 1 month after the reference month; for example, March estimates are published in April.
The QCEW provides a virtual census (97 percent) of monthly employment and quarterly total wages, derived from Unemployment Insurance tax records that almost all employers are required to file quarterly. QCEW series for the Nation, States, metropolitan areas, and counties are published 7 months after the end of the reference quarter. For example, first quarter (January through March) employment and wage counts are published in October.
Thus, the CES estimates are timelier, but the QCEW series are more comprehensive, publishing far more industry and geographic detail. The CES employment estimates are benchmarked annually to the QCEW employment counts. The benchmarking process is intended to correct for sampling error and nonsampling error in the CES estimates.
Both the CES and the QCEW programs faced major operational and analytical challenges collecting data following Hurricane Katrina. At the same time, there was great demand for these data as policymakers tried to assess the immediate and long-term effects of the storm. This article describes the CES and QCEW responses to the difficulties posed by the hurricane and its aftermath and presents some of the employment and wage trends measured by the programs both before and after the storm.
This excerpt is from an article published in the August 2006 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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Related BLS programs
Current Employment Statistics
Current Employment Statistics (State & Area)
Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages
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