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Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages

Employment and Wages, Annual Averages 2005

The annual bulletin Employment and Wages contains employment and wage data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program aggregated by State and industry and by county. The latest bulletin can be ordered from the U.S. Government Printing Office. The material cited below is drawn from this publication, which is largely CD-based. Text references to the CD are not modified in the web version.


This edition of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS or the Bureau) bulletin on employment and wages contains several new elements. Most notably, data tables and the text describing the characteristics and uses of the data are published exclusively in digital formats and included on the enclosed CD. Formerly, the data and its description were printed as a book with nearly 700 pages. The thirteen data tables on this CD are 2005 versions of the same tables that appeared in the 2004 edition of the bulletin. All tables are available as PDF files; in addition, tables 1-10 are available as fixed-width text files that can be imported into spreadsheets and databases.

All data, at each level of geography, can be found at Additionally, all tables in this publication are available as PDFs on the above Web site. Questions regarding these data can be addressed by calling the information line at (202) 691-6567 or by email.

County news releases present employment and wages by county and are released approximately 7 months after the reference quarter. The BED news release presents gross job gains and losses and is released approximately 8 months after the reference quarter. 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 email.

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 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS; the Bureau) Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics prepared this bulletin: Anne Lise Almira, Michael B. Buso, John Dickson, Paul E. Ferree, David R. H. Hiles, Rachel Hongtong, David A. Ivory, Spencer A. Jobe, Keith G. Keel, Ryan C. Martin, Mike McCall, Jay Miller, James Rice, Akbar Sadeghi, Peter Smith, Eli Stoltzfus, Robert Vigas, Sally Williams, and Linda Wohlford of the Division of Administrative Statistics and Labor Turnover, Richard L. Clayton, Chief. Data were prepared and processed by Zipora Abzug, Barbara Athey, David Baggett, Noel Cox, Patricia Felder, John Kennedy, Stephen Kim, Kern Kimbleton, Stephen Lashick, Larry Lie, Sandra Logan, Reuel Paredes, William Plaskie, Carolyn Raines-Fein, Repala Srinivas, Ana Reyes, Leonard Stockmann, Jerry Trach, Natasha Tsyryulnikova, Pat Walker, and William Yowler of the Division of Business Establishment Systems, Arthur Yao, Chief. Additional graphics were provided by Amar Mann of the San Francisco Regional Office and by J. Chris Cunningham of the Atlanta Regional Office. Cover art, typesetting, and layout were furnished by Bruce Boyd, and editorial services were provided by Monica Gabor of the Office of Publications and Special Studies.

BLS 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 major 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 bulletin 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 2005 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 2002 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 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS; the Bureau).

In 2005, BLS derived totals of 8.6 million establishments, 131.6 million employed, and $5.4 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 8.3 million business establishments. Similar reports of monthly employment and quarterly wages were submitted by the Federal Government for 2.7 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 (97.3 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 1,197 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 industry level. Private-sector data also are presented by national gross job gains and losses. State, local, and Federal Government data are detailed for selected industries.

Users interested in more information about NAICS can access the BLS Web page at and the U.S. Census Bureau Web page at The NAICS 2002 manual may be obtained by accessing the Web page of the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) at and clicking on "Best Sellers."

Characteristics and uses of the data


The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS; the Bureau) 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 Bureaus 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.

Uses of the data

The Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Department of Commerce uses QCEW data as a base for developing the wage and salary component of personal income, part of the National Income and Product Accounts. QCEW wages accounted for 52.3 percent of total personal income and 94.5 percent of the wage and salary component of personal income in 2005.

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 other tasks.

The QCEW program provides data necessary to both the Employment and Training Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor and State workforce agencies for use in administering the workforce security program. Data accurately reflect the extent of coverage of State UI laws and 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. QCEW data also are used to compute State and national insured unemployment rates for workers covered by UI programs.

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. Data serve, for example, as the basic source of benchmark information for employment by industry in the CES program, the IIF program, and the OES Survey.

How to obtain publications and data

Recent and historical data may be obtained from the BLS Web site at 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 email. Requests also may be sent by mail to the Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, Division of Administrative Statistics and Labor Turnover, Room 4840, 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 also are available and may be obtained from the State workforce agencies in those jurisdictions.

Unemployment insurance laws and coverage

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 system.

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 agricultural labor.

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 Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemen programs are excluded from the tables in this publication.

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. Table A quantifies some of the exclusions in 2005.

Table A. Coverage exclusions in 2005, for selected workers



Number Excluded
(in millions)

 Number Included
(in millions)

Wage and salary agricultural workers


Self-employed farmers1


Not covered

Self-employed nonagricultural workers1


Not covered

Domestic workers



Unpaid family workers1


Not covered

State and local government workers



Railroad workers


Not covered

1These are out-of-scope groups, according to QCEW criteria.

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 Comparison of State Unemployment Insurance Laws, available on request from the Employment and Training Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor,

Industrial classification

Since 1938, Employment and wage data developed in the QCEW program have been classified by industry. 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.

Data presented in this bulletin are classified in accordance with the 2002 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Beginning with the release of data for 2001, publications presenting data from the QCEW program use the 2002 version of NAICS as the basis for the assignment and tabulation of economic data by industry. NAICS is the product of a cooperative effort on the part of the statistical agencies of the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Due to differences in structure between NAICS and the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system that was previously used, industry data for 2001 forward are not comparable to the SIC-based data for earlier years.

NAICS uses a production-oriented approach to categorize economic units. Units with similar production processes are classified into the same industry. NAICS focuses on how products and services are created, as opposed to the SIC focus on what is produced. The NAICS approach yields industry groupings that are significantly different from those obtained with the SIC approach.

Data users will be able to work with NAICS industrial groupings that better reflect the workings of the U.S. economy. For example, the industry sector called information brings together units that turn information into a commodity with units that distribute that commodity. The major components for Information are publishing, broadcasting, telecommunications, information services, and data processing. Under the SIC system, these units were spread across the manufacturing, communications, business services, and amusement services groups. Another sector of interest is professional and technical services. This sector consists of establishments engaged in activities into which human capital is the major input.

The NAICS manual defines the following categories of industries:

  • 20 sectors
  • 100 subsectors
  • 317 four-digit industry groups
  • 725 five-digit NAICS industries
  • 1,179 six-digit industries.

BLS has extended the NAICS coding upwards, into 2 domains and 11 supersectors.

BLS also has extended NAICS downward into subsector 238, specialty trade contractors, dividing the 19 industries into residential and nonresidential categories. BLS files include totals for unclassified records at each NAICS level of aggregation. Unclassified, NAICS 999999, is its own supersector under the service-producing domain. The industry categories under subsector 238 and the inclusion of unclassified bring the number of 6-digit industries to 1,199. Yet, there are two 6-digit industries not used in the United States: Dual purpose cattle ranching and farming, NAICS 112130, and offices of notaries, NAICS 541120. Thus, the number of 6-digit industries for which BLS publishes data is 1,197.

BLS publishes NAICS industry data under the principle that, as long as there is additional detail to be gained by publishing the next lower level, the Bureau will do so. This principle of congruent data means that BLS will publish all data to the 6-digit industry level if there are two or more 6-digit industries below a 5-digit NAICS industry level. If there is only one such industry, BLS publishes data for only the 5-digit level. Likewise, if there is only one 6-digit industry and one 5-digit NAICS industry under a 4-digit industry group, BLS will publish data for only the 4-digit industry group. At this time, there are 7-four-digit industry groups that roll up to the 3-digit subsector level, 68 five-digit NAICS industries that roll up to the 4-digit industry group level, and 415 six-digit industries that roll up to the 5-digit NAICS industry level.

Additionally, there are two 6-digit industries that have a significant last digit of "0": Commercial lithographic printing, NAICS 323110, and electromedical apparatus manufacturing, NAICS 334510. Both of the 5-digit NAICS industries have 10 six-digit industries under them. Thus, NAICS codes should not be padded with zeroes.

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 first quarter.


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 located.

Covered private-industry employment includes most corporate officials, executives, supervisory personnel, professionals, clerical workers, wage earners, piece-workers, and part-time workers. It excludes proprietors, the unincorporated self-employed, unpaid family members, and certain farm and domestic 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. The employment count excludes workers who earned no wages during the entire applicable pay period because of work stoppages, temporary layoffs, illness, or unpaid vacations.

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.

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.

Establishments and employment size

An 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 industries.

Most 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.

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 2005 were tabulated into size categories 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.


Total wages. 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.

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 wages. 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.

Average 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.

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 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:

Openings. 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.

Expansions. 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 period.

Closings. These are establishments with positive third-month employment in the previous quarter and with either no employment or zero employment reported in the current quarter.

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.

All 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.

Disclosure restrictions

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.

Imputed data

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.

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. The 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 contracting establishments.

Current Employment Statistics. BLS and State workforce agencies cooperate in the 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 400,000 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 8.6 million U.S. establishments. The 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, the 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. The CPS counts such workers once, in the job at which they worked the most hours. The CPS counts employed persons at their place of residence; the QCEW program counts jobs at the place of work. The 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 intermittent employees.

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 7-month lag. CBP data are published annually, with approximately an 18-month lag.

  • QCEW data before 2001 were tabulated on the basis of the 1987 SIC system; data for 2001, and after, are tabulated on the basis of the 2002 NAICS. Data for 1990-2000 are available through the QCEW NAICS history project. CBP data for 1997, and earlier, are tabulated on the basis of the SIC system; data for 1998 through 2002 are tabulated on the basis of the 1997 NAICS; data for 2003, and after, are based on the 2002 NAICS.
  • QCEW data include crop and animal production; the U.S. Postal Service; pension, health, welfare, and vacation funds; trusts, estates, and agency accounts; private households; and public administration. These sources of data are excluded from CBP.
  • QCEW data include most government employees. Most of these workers are excluded from CBP employment.

QCEW-Related Monthly Labor Review Abstracts

Established in 1915, the Monthly Labor Review is the principal journal of fact, analysis, and research of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2005 and 2006, the Review published several articles at least partly based on QCEW, Business Employment Dynamics (BED), or Unemployment Insurance (UI) data. These articles are listed and briefly summarized here.

Survival and longevity in the Business Employment Dynamics data

May 2005, Vol. 128, No. 5

Amy E. Knaup

Economist, Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

All empirical work in this article is based on the authors calculations. Any views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policies of the Bureau of Labor Statistics or the views of other BLS staff members.

The 1990s saw many sectors of our economy grow apace, through either mergers, buyouts, or new openings. Signs of the times (figuratively and literally, as one bank bought out or merged with another) were on hometown banks, and the fruits of new construction festooned many neighborhoods. In addition to new homes going up, new businesses were moving in to take advantage of the growing wealth in the United States.

Our understanding of new businesses has been limited largely to the manufacturing sector and to the scale of the firm, not to the establishment. 1

The main reason for this shortcoming is limitations on the data available for study. In many countries—including the United States until recently—manufacturing was the only sector for which data with the capability of linking firms across time were compiled on a regular basis. Thus, except for firms in the manufacturing sector, no history of a firms behavior could be constructed.

This research summary examines the business survival characteristics of all establishments that started in the United States in the late 1990s, when the boom of much of that decade was not yet showing signs of weakness. The analysis presented builds on and extends a report from the Minnesota Department of Economic Security on business churning from 1993 to 1995. 2 The report profiled business births, survival rates, and deaths during the early years of the decade, when the boom was just starting. This article follows the businesses reported on into the recession of 2001 to see how they fared once the economy took a downturn. The analysis follows a birth cohort from the second quarter of 1998 through the next 16 quarters, differing from previous analyses in both focus and time frame. The focus is on only completely new entrants—that is, new firms which open a single establishment. The analysis encompasses all sectors of the economy; survival rates of establishments, as well as several measures of employment, are reported and compared across sectors.


Nonprofit organizations: new insights from QCEW data

September 2005, Vol. 128, No. 9

Lester M. Salamon

Director, Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies, Baltimore, MD.

Wojciech Sokolowski

Senior Research Scientist, Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies, Baltimore, MD.

The BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages data set has enormous promise as a source of timely information on the private, nonprofit sector; new discoveries challenge a variety of conventional theories about these organizations.


Employment dynamics of individual companies versus multicorporations

December 2005, Vol. 128, No. 12

Shail Butani

Chief of Statistical Methods Staff, Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

George Werking

Assistant Commissioner, Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Vinod Kapani

Supervisory Mathematical Statistician, Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Individual companies dominated employment growth during the recent expansion; in contrast, multicorporations were responsible for all the job losses during the recent contraction.


Changes in State unemployment insurance legislation in 2005

January 2006, Vol. 129, No. 1

Loryn Lancaster

Unemployment Insurance Program Specialist, Division of Legislation, Office of Workforce Security, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor.

State enactments include State Unemployment Tax Act (SUTA) dumping provisions, modified voluntary quit and noncharging provisions for situations involving service members, and modified pension offset provisions for treating social security retirement benefits.


Business employment dynamics: tabulations by employer size

February 2006, Vol. 129, No. 2

Shail J. Butani

Chief, Statistical Methods Staff, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Richard L. Clayton

Chief, Division of Administrative Statistics and Labor Turnover, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Vinod Kapani

Supervisory Mathematical Statistician, Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

James R. Spletzer

Senior Research Economist, Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

David M. Talan

Supervisory Economist, Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

George S. Werking Jr.

Formerly Assistant Commissioner, Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This article discusses the alternative statistical methodologies that BLS considered for creating size class tabulations from the Business Employment Dynamics (BED) data. To measure continuous quarterly employment growth by employer size, BLS, with the help of its research community, chooses the best methodology available among quarterly base-sizing, annual base-sizing, mean-sizing, and dynamic-sizing. The article discusses the evaluation criteria that BLS considered for choosing its official size class methodology. Although BLS is making the seasonally adjusted data series from all the classification methodologies available for research purposes, one methodology—dynamic-sizing—was chosen as the official methodology for citation and analysis in the quarterly BED press release.


The labor market impact of Hurricane Katrina: an overview

August 2006, Vol. 129, No.8

This overview provides a look at Hurricane Katrinas impact on the labor markets of Louisiana and Mississippi and, to some extent, Alabama and Florida. An estimated 17 percent of Louisianas employment and 5 percent of Mississippis employment were within the FEMA-designated damage zones. The two States experienced a sharp rise in mass layoff events and unemployment rates after Hurricane Katrina. In June 2006, Mississippis employment level had returned to its pre-Katrina level, while Louisianas level had not. Evacuees again living in their pre-Katrina homes in June 2006 had a lower unemployment rate than those who were not.


Worker mobility before and after Hurricane Katrina

August 2006, Vol. 129, No.8

Richard L. Clayton

Chief, Administrative Statistics and Labor Turnover Division, Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics.


James R. Spletzer

Supervisory Economist, Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics.


A substantial number of workers were displaced from the New Orleans metropolitan statistical area after Hurricane Katrina. Those who quickly found jobs in Texas experienced a substantial decline in their short-term earnings. This article studies the labor market effects of Hurricane Katrina using wage records from Louisiana and Texas, enhanced with data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. It studies the normal level of worker mobility between the New Orleans area and Texas, and contrasts this with the level of worker location change in the months immediately following Hurricane Katrina.


Hurricane Katrinas effects on industry employment and wages

August 2006, Vol. 129, No.8

Molly Garber

Economist, Division of Current Employment Statistics, Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Linda Unger

Statistician, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program, Division of Administrative Statistics and Labor Turnover, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

James White

Economist, Division of Current Employment Statistics, Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Linda Wohlford

Economist, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program, Division of Administrative Statistics and Labor Turnover, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Katrina posed an unprecedented challenge to accurately measuring employment and wages at a local level. Rapid development of alternative methods in two Bureau of Labor Statistics programs resulted in a clearer view of the economic impact of this storm than would have been possible otherwise. This article describes the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program and the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) responses to the difficulties posed by the hurricane and its aftermath. It also presents some of the employment and wage trends measured by the programs both before and after the storm.


Charts and Maps

  • Charts and Maps (PDF) 4.3MB


  • 1. Total coverage (UI and UCFE) by ownership: Establishments, employment, and wages, 1994 to 2005 annual averages. (PDF) 13KB, (TEXT) 6KB
  • 2. Private industry by six-digit NAICS industry and government by level of government, 2005 annual averages: Establishments, employment, and wages, change from 2004. (PDF) 203KB, (TEXT) 309KB
  • 3. Private industry by supersector and size of establishment: Establishments and employment, first quarter 2005. (PDF) 10KB, (TEXT) 7KB
  • 4. Private industry by supersector and size of establishment: Establishments and employment, first quarter 2005, by State. (PDF) 105KB, (TEXT) 280KB
  • 5. Total coverage (UI and UCFE) by State, 2005 annual averages: Establishments, employment, and wages, change from 2004. (PDF) 13KB, (TEXT) 11KB
  • 6. Private industry by State, 2005 annual averages: Establishments, employment, and wages, change from 2004. (PDF) 13KB, (TEXT) 11KB
  • 7. Federal Government by State and selected industries: Establishments, employment, and wages, 2005 annual averages. (PDF) 41KB, (TEXT) 98KB
  • 8. State government by State and selected industries: Establishments, employment, and wages, 2005 annual averages. (PDF) 43KB, (TEXT) 91KB
  • 9. Local government by State and selected industries: Establishments, employment, and wages, 2005 annual averages. (PDF) 47KB, (TEXT) 98KB
  • 10. Private industry by State and 6-digit NAICS industry: Establishments, employment, and wages, 2005 annual averages: (PDF) 3.8MB, (TEXT) 11.3MB
  • 11. Covered establishments, employment, and wages in the 318 largest counties, fourth quarter 2005 (PDF) 30KB
  • 12. Private-sector gross job gains and losses, seasonally adjusted, September 1992 to December 2005 (PDF) 11KB
  • 13. Private-sector gross job gains and losses by industry, seasonally adjusted, December 2004 to December 2005 (PDF) 18KB


Last Modified Date: March 31, 2008