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Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages

Employment and Wages Online Annual Averages, 2010

The annual bulletin Employment and Wages contains employment and wage data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program aggregated by industry at the national, state, and county levels.


This web-only publication, Employment and Wages Online, is the successor to the annual print bulletin, Employment and Wages. The 2008 issue of the Employment and Wages bulletin was the final edition to be issued on paper in March 2010.

There are some differences between the print publication and the web-only publication. Many of the graphs which appeared in the print publication are no longer produced. The web-only publication continues to present extensive tables of QCEW data along with supplemental documentation. Questions regarding these data can be addressed to the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program by calling (202) 691-6567 or by using any of the channels provided on the QCEW contact page on the BLS Web site at

The quarterly County Employment and Wages news releases produced by the QCEW program as well as PDFs of all 2010 QCEW news releases can be found at the QCEW news release archive. County Employment and Wages news releases present employment and wages by county and are released approximately 6 months after the reference quarter. With continuous process improvements, the QCEW is now on an accelerated schedule to release data earlier than in previous years. All data, at each level of geography, can be found at QCEW databases. All tables in this publication are available as PDFs on the above Web site. Questions regarding these data can be addressed to the QCEW program by calling (202) 691-6567 or by email.

Business Employment Dynamics (BED) news releases present gross job gains and losses and are released approximately 8 months after the reference quarter. BED also began publishing data on an accelerated schedule by releasing the second quarter 2010 data two weeks earlier than previous releases. (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 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics prepared this publication under the Division of Administrative Statistics and Labor Turnover, Richard L. Clayton, Chief: Michael B. Buso, Jennifer Cheng, John Dickson, Paul E. Ferree, David A. Ivory, Spencer A. Jobe, Keith G. Keel, Jay Miller, Masa Shirako, Peter Smith, Richard E. Wise III, Linda Wohlford and Phoebe Yung of the Current Data Analysis Branch, David R. H. Hiles, Chief; Akbar Sadeghi and Eric Simants of the State Operations and Frame Research Branch, David M. Talan, Chief.

Data were prepared and processed by: Shirley Tsai of the Division of Business Establishment Systems, Arthur Yao, Division Chief; Jacob Gabiam, Larry Lie, Reuel Paredes, William Plaskie, Carolyn Raines-Fein, and Shane Warren of the DBES Procedures Branch, Stephen Lashick, Branch Chief; Zipora Abzug, Noel Cox, Patricia Felder, Ali Latif, Sandra Logan, Ana Reyes, Kimberly Stephens, Natasha Tsyryulnikova, and Pat Walker of the DBES Systems Branch. During this publication cycle, the Systems Branch was under the supervision of Barbara Athey, until she retired as Branch Chief. She was succeeded by Augustine Moonjelly.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS; the Bureau) 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 primary 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 publication 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 2010 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 2007 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 BLS.

In 2010, BLS derived totals of 9.0 million establishments, 127.8 million employed, and $6.0 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 106.2 million wage and salary employees in approximately 8.7 million business establishments. Similar reports of monthly employment and quarterly wages were submitted by the Federal Government for 3.0 million civilian employees, by State governments for 4.6 million employees, and by local governments for 14.0 million employees. UI-covered employment reported by these sources constituted a virtual census (97.1 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 1,193 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 NAICS industries. Private-sector data also are presented by national gross job gains and losses. State, local, and Federal Government data are detailed for selected industries.

QCEW data for 2007 through 2010 are classified according to the NAICS 2007. For more information on the classification systems used by the QCEW program, please refer to the QCEW Industry Classification page.


Employment and Wages Annual Averages Employment Chart Employment and Wages Annual Averages Wages Chart


  1. Total coverage (UI and UCFE) by ownership: Establishments, employment, and wages, 2001 to 2010 annual averages. (PDF)
  2. Private industry by six-digit NAICS industry and government by level of government, 2010 annual averages: Establishments, employment, and wages, change from 2009. (PDF)
  3. Private industry by supersector and size of establishment: Establishments and employment, first quarter 2010. (PDF)
  4. Private industry by supersector and size of establishment: Establishments and employment, first quarter 2010, by State. (PDF)
  5. Total coverage (UI and UCFE) by State, 2010 annual averages: Establishments, employment, and wages, change from 2009. (PDF)
  6. Private industry by State, 2010 annual averages: Establishments, employment, and wages, change from 2009. (PDF)
  7. Federal Government by State and selected industries: Establishments, employment, and wages, 2010 annual averages. (PDF)
  8. State government by State and selected industries: Establishments, employment, and wages, 2010 annual averages. (PDF)
  9. Local government by State and selected industries: Establishments, employment, and wages, 2010 annual averages. (PDF)
  10. Private industry by State and six-digit NAICS industry: Establishments, employment, and wages, 2010 annual averages. (PDF) 3.5MB
  11. Covered establishments, employment, and wages in the 323 largest counties, first quarter 2011. (PDF)
  12. Private-sector gross job gains and losses, seasonally adjusted, September 1992 to December 2010. (PDF)
  13. Private-sector gross job gains and losses by industry, seasonally adjusted, December 2009 to December 2010. (PDF)
  14. Private sector gross job gains and losses by state, seasonally adjusted, December 2009 to December 2010. (PDF)
  15. Private sector gross job gains and losses as a percent of total employment by State, seasonally adjusted, December 2009 to December 2010. (PDF)

Characteristics of the data

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 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 Bureau?s 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.

Unemployment insurance laws and coverage

The employer reports that form the input to the QCEW are required by the Federal Unemployment Insurance Tax Act and its extensions. 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 the Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemen (UCX) program are excluded from the tables in this publication.

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,

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. See Table A under Employment for details.

Industrial classification

Employment and wage data developed in the QCEW program have been classified by industry since 1938. Data presented in this publication are classified in accordance with the 2007 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). It is the product of a cooperative effort on the part of the statistical agencies of the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

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.

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 4-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.

QCEW data for 2007 through 2010 are classified according to the NAICS 2007. For more information on the classification systems used by the QCEW program, please refer to the QCEW Industry Classification page.


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. 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.

It excludes proprietors, the unincorporated self-employed, unpaid family members, and certain farm and domestic workers. The employment count also excludes workers who earned no wages during the entire applicable pay period because of work stoppages, temporary layoffs, illness, or unpaid vacations.

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. 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.

Coverage exclusions

Table A. Coverage exclusions in 2010, for selected workers


Number Excluded
(in millions)

 Number Included
(in millions)

Wage and salary agricultural workers



Self-employed agricultural workers1


Not covered

Self-employed nonagricultural workers1


Not covered

Domestic workers



Unpaid family workers1


Not covered

State and local government workers



Railroad workers



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


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.

Total wages exclusions

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.

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. The MWR substantially enhanced the accuracy of the QCEW data after 1991 and allowed the QCEW data to be a better sample frame for other programs.

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 the year were tabulated into size categories in Tables 3 and 4, 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.

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. 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.

Please see the BED section below for a more detail description of BED data.

Current Employment Statistics

BLS and State workforce agencies cooperate in the Current Employment Statistics (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 440,000 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 9.0 million U.S. establishments. 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, 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. CPS counts such workers once, in the job at which they worked the most hours. CPS counts employed persons at their place of residence; the QCEW program counts jobs at the place of work. 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 6-month lag. CBP data are published annually, with approximately an 18-month lag.
  • QCEW data and CBP data are classified under different industry classification systems. QCEW data before 2001 were tabulated based on the 1987 SIC system; data from 2001-2006 are tabulated based on the NAICS 2002, and data from 2007-2010 are tabulated based on the NAICS 2007. Data for 1990-2000 are available through the QCEW NAICS history project. QCEW data can be accessed through the QCEW data guide.
  • CBP data for 1997 and earlier are tabulated based on the SIC system; data from 1998-2002 are tabulated based on the NAICS 1997; data from 2003-2007 are tabulated based on the NAICS 2002 and data from 2008-2009 are tabulated based on the NAICS 2007.

Uses of the data

QCEW data are widely used by federal statistical agencies, BLS surveys, and other public and private establishments as a basis for their statistics and research publications.

Bureau of Economic Analysis

The Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Department of Commerce uses QCEW data as a base for developing the national, state, and local area wage and salary component of personal income. Personal income is a major part of the National Income and Product Accounts and the Regional Economic Accounts. QCEW wages accounted for 48.3 percent of total personal income and 93.3 percent of the wage and salary component of personal income in 2010.

The BEA also revises annual estimates according to QCEW wage and salary disbursements data. QCEW wages, which include irregular pay, such as bonuses and gains from the exercise of stock options, are more comprehensive. Personal Income estimates for prior quarters are revised each release. The revised estimates reflect the inclusion of newly available tabulations of prior quarter QCEW wage data.

Social Security Administration

The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses QCEW data as a quality check against data provided by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This allows SSA to improve its estimates of Old Age and Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) and Hospital Insurance (HI) covered and taxable wages and employment for the most recent historical periods. This, in turn, allows the Treasury to make more accurate transfers from the general fund to the OASDI and HI trust funds. For the annual Trustees Reports, this provides legislators and the general public with more accurate estimates of the effects of present and proposed legislation on the future status of the OASDI and HI trust funds.

SSA also uses QCEW data as a quality check against data provided by employers on Forms W-2. This allows them to improve their estimates of the average U.S. wage for the latest prior historical year. Each October, the SSA estimates the annual U.S. wage for the prior year to set the Average Wage Index (AWI) for that year. This, in turn, is used to set automatic adjustments in the contribution and benefit base, bend points, earnings test exempt amounts, and other wage-indexed amounts for the upcoming year.

Employment and Training Administration

The QCEW program provides data necessary to both the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) of the U.S. Department of Labor and State workforce agencies for use in administering the workforce security program. QCEW data accurately reflect the extent of coverage of State UI laws. These data 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. States also use monthly QCEW employment data in the calculation of insured unemployment rates (IUR) for federal-state extended benefits (EB) triggers.

Census Bureau

The Census Bureau uses QCEW program industrial classification information to assign industry codes to some employers in their Business Registry (BR). Since 1991, under a directive from the Office of Management and Budget, the Census Bureau has requested assistance from BLS with industrial classification information from its Business Establishment List (BEL). This project is conducted to maintain and strengthen industrial classifications on the Census Bureau?s BR, which is the sampling frame for their establishment surveys. The sharing of these codes reduces costs and respondent burden. Also, increased consistency of industry codes leads to greater uniformity in the resulting economic data flowing from the BLS and the Census Bureau at national, state, and county levels. Consequently, the data produced from these agencies using input from BLS and Census Bureau are of higher quality. For example, state and county personal income estimates from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) will benefit from consistent coding.

Bureau of Labor Statistics

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


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.

How to obtain publications and data

Recent and historical data may be obtained from the QCEW program. 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 e-mail. Requests also may be sent by mail to the Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, Division of Administrative Statistics and Labor Turnover, Room 4840, U.S. 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 are also available and may be obtained from the State workforce agencies in those jurisdictions.

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 private 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.

With the publication of its first quarter data for 2007, the BED program announced a one-time revision to its historical data series.  According to this announcement, all historical BED series back to third quarter 1992 have been revised for both seasonally adjusted and not seasonally adjusted series to incorporate updated and improved input data. In the future, annual revisions to BED series will be published each year with the release of first quarter data. Those revisions will cover the last four quarters of not seasonally adjusted data and 5 years of seasonally adjusted data.

QCEW-related Monthly Labor Review Abstracts

Established in 1915, the Monthly Labor Review (Review) is the principal journal of fact, analysis, and research of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2010, 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.

Changes in Federal and State unemployment insurance legislation in 2009

Loryn Lancaster

Loryn Lancaster is an unemployment insurance program specialist in the Division of Legislation, Office of Unemployment Insurance, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor. E-mail:

Federal enactments extend benefits, providing Federal funds to the States to cover costs; State enactments include provisions regarding base periods, extended benefits, and training programs.

State labor legislation enacted in 2009

John J. Fitzpatrick, Jr., James L. Perine, and Bridget Dutton

John J. Fitzpatrick, Jr., is the State Standards Team Leader in the Office of Performance, Budget, and Departmental Liaison, Wage and Hour Division, U.S. Department of Labor; James L. Perine and Bridget Dutton are compliance specialists on the State Standards Team in the same Office. E-mail:,, or

Drug and alcohol testing, equal employment opportunity, human trafficking, immigration protections, independent contractors, the minimum wage, prevailing wages, wages paid, and worker privacy were among the most active areas in which State legislatures either enacted or revised legislation during the year.

Crash and reboot: Silicon Valley high-tech employment and wages, 2000-08

Amar Mann and Tian Luo

Amar Mann is a regional economist and Tian Luo is an economist, both at the Bureau of Labor Statistics? West Regional Office for Economic Analysis and Information in San Francisco, California. E-mail: or

On the whole, high-tech industries in Silicon Valley declined sharply in employment and wages from 2000 to 2004 but increased gradually in both respects from 2004 to 2008; though the industry mix changed during the 8-year period, Silicon Valley remains the world?s leading high-tech hub.

Industry shifts over the decade put Philadelphia on a new road to job growth

Gerald Perrins and Diane Nilsen

Gerald Perrins is the regional economist in the Philadelphia Office of Field Operations, Bureau of Labor Statistics; Diane Nilsen is the regional economist in the National Office, Washington, DC.

Expansion of the education and health services and professional and business services supersectors from 1998 to 2008 allowed Philadelphia and its environs to reduce the area?s dependence on perennial jobs leader trade, transportation, and utilities.

The expanding role of temporary help services from 1990 to 2008

Tian Luo, Amar Mann, and Richard Holden

Tian Luo is an economist, Amar Mann is a supervisory economist, and Richard Holden is a regional commissioner, all at the Bureau of Labor Statistics? West Regional Office for Economic Analysis and Information in San Francisco, California. Email:,, or

During the 1990-2008 period, employment in the temporary help services industry grew from 1.1 million to 2.3 million and came to include a larger share of workers than before in higher skill occupations; employment in this industry has been very volatile because temporary workers are easily hired when demand increases and laid off when it decreases.

Last Modified Date: March 24, 2014