Department of Labor Logo United States Department of Labor
Dot gov

The .gov means it's official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you're on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages

Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fact Sheet

The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program produces employment and wage totals which are available at the local level, often with substantial industry detail. The QCEW program has developed profiles of the oil and gas drilling industry and the leisure and hospitality industry on the Gulf of Mexico. The non-payroll nature of the Gulf fishing industry precludes its full measurement by the QCEW program.

QCEW Concepts


QCEW data are based on reports from employers covered by the unemployment insurance program. Workers who are self employed, such as fishing crews or single employee contractors are not eligible for unemployment coverage. They are not included in QCEW employment and wage totals. The Gulf fishing industry is not fully captured by QCEW. It is dominated by a partnership arrangement, based on shares of the catch. These workers are not on a payroll and fall outside the QCEW scope.


QCEW data are based on place of employment. For beach hotels, this usually means that employment is reported at the hotel. On the other hand, drilling rig employment is generally reported not at the well head but at a base of operations. Substantial drilling employment is correspondingly reported in Houston or in various Louisiana parishes.

Industry Classification

QCEW data are available for industry categories based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). NAICS makes no distinction between onshore and offshore drilling, let alone between different categories of offshore drilling based on the depth of the water.


QCEW quarterly data are released with a six and a half month lag. The spill began in the second quarter of 2010. QCEW data for this period will be available in January 2011.

Geographic and Industry Detail

QCEW data are published at the county (parish in Louisiana), MSA, State, and National levels. At each geographic level, data are published at each level of NAICS industry detail to the extent that data exists and that it is not confidential. The data is withheld from publication in cases where the data may reveal confidential information about specific employers. Industries with many establishments, such as leisure and hospitality, are usually available down to the county level. Industries with few establishments, such as seafood processing, are very likely to be withheld at the county level.

Data Access

QCEW data are available in a number of forms. For a quick grasp of a locality, the best tool is the QCEW State and County Map application. For comparison of an industry across many localities, try the high level county spreadsheets for the "by area" data files available through the QCEW data guide. To obtain information for more detailed industries, use the BLS one-screen data search.


Last Modified Date: March 24, 2014