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California Wildfires and BLS Data

In late October 2007, several major wildfires engulfed large tracts of land in the southern region of California, forcing the evacuation of half a million people. Adverse climatic conditions contributed to the rapid spread of the fire, which has resulted in the loss of lives, the destruction of homes and other property, and the disruption of business activities. Below are questions and answers pertaining to whether the fires affected data reported in the October 2007 Employment Situation (TXT) (PDF), Regional and State Employment and Unemployment (TXT) (PDF), and Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment news releases. Also below is a link to a profile of employment and wages in FEMA-designated counties. 

Questions and Answers: California Wildfires and Employment Situation and Regional and State Employment and Unemployment News Releases

  1. Were the October data from the Employment Situation, Regional and State Employment and Unemployment, and Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment news releases affected by the Southern California wildfires and evacuations?
  2. No. In the establishment survey, workers who are paid by their employer for any part of the pay period including the 12th of the month are counted as employed. Since the Southern California wildfires and evacuations began after the week of the 12th, there was no discernable impact on October employment estimates. Hours or earnings impacts, if any, would be negligible at the national level. The state, area, and division unemployment estimates use the concepts from a monthly survey of households. In the household survey, a person is considered employed if he or she did any work for pay during the reference week (the calendar week including the 12th of the month) or had a job from which he or she was temporarily absent.

  3. Was BLS able to collect information from survey respondents (both establishments and households) in the areas affected by the Southern California wildfires and evacuations?
  4. Yes. In October, response rates for the establishment survey were within normal ranges for the affected areas. For the household survey, the U.S. Census Bureau had completed most of the data collection the week before the fires and evacuations. As a result, the number of interviews conducted in the affected areas was little different from prior months.

Employment and Wage Profile for FEMA-Designated Counties 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has prepared a profile of county-wide Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) data for 2006 for the seven counties affected by the wildfires. (QCEW data for the fourth quarter of 2007, which will reflect the impact of the wildfires, will be available in July 2008.) See "Employment and Wage Profile of the Counties Affected by the October 2007 California Wildfires," at


Last Modified Date: January 23, 2008